Land Disposal Program

Implementation of Subtitle D Regulations

This section is dedicated to providing information regarding the implementation of Federal Subtitle D regulations State Water Resources Control Board and by Regional Water Quality Control Boards. The subjects covered under this section may be updated regularly. If you have any questions or suggestions about the implementation of Subtitle D regulations, please inform us. The following subjects are addressed currently:

What is Subtitle D?
Subtitle D is a set of federal requirements (Subpart 257 and 258, Title 40, Federal Code of Regulations) for public and private landfills receiving municipal solid waste waste. It sets out minimum standards for design, operation, location, closure and post closure. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) adopted the Subtitle D regulations on October 9, 1991 and most provisions became effective on October 9, 1993.

How is California affected by Subtitle D?
Subtitle D was intended to be a model upon which the states could establish their own solid waste landfill regulatory program. Each state must adopt such a program and apply for approval from US EPA. California has received full final approval from US EPA, based on its existing landfill regulatory program and SWRCB Resolution No. 93-62.

If California already had requirements and standards for regulating municipal solid waste, why wasn't the state's program grandfathered?
There are no provisions in federal law that allow for exempting any state's program. For a state to obtain full program approval, its program must have had an equivalent or more stringent provision for each and every Subtitle D provision. While much of California's program was deemed equivalent or more stringent, US EPA found other areas inadequate. Thus, California adopted some of the federal requirements by amending its policies and regulations in order to obtain full approval.

How is Subtitle D implemented in California?
Subtitle D is a self-implementing federal program. It went into effect on the designated federal dates and coexists with California's program. Under federal authority found in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, citizens who wish to challenge a landfill operator's practices can file suit in federal court.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) and State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) are jointly responsible for implementing California's program. Regional Water Quality Control Boards implement the water quality aspects of the state program. The Local Enforcement Agencies and the CIWMB implement the public health and safety aspects of the state program.

How does Subtitle D affect waste discharge requirements?
The SWRCB adopted a policy (Resolution No. 93-62), reflecting water quality mandates of Subtitle D, that requires Regional Boards to amend all municipal solid waste landfill waste discharge requirements.

Is Subtitle D designed to eliminate small facilities?
US EPA has stated the intent of Subtitle D is to promote regionalization by closing small facilities which cannot afford to comply with location, design, operating, closure and post closure requirements of the federal regulations. Such landfills may be forced to close and transport waste great distances to larger landfills. Using the flexibility allowed under Subtitle D, California is trying to mitigate this effect to the extent possible.

Are there any grant or loan funds to help us comply with the new criteria?
Subtitle D is an unfunded federal mandate. However, with approval of California's program as "federally equivalent", the state has the maximum flexibility allowed under Subtitle D. Managing the state's program without this flexibility would present an even more onerous burden to both public and private operators.

What steps do I follow as an operator need to take after October 9, 1993?

  1. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of Subtitle D and the changes to the state program. Review your practices to ensure compliance with new requirements.
  2. Assess the surrounding community to determine the likelihood of a citizen lawsuit. Discuss the citizen lawsuit aspect of Subtitle D with your legal counsel so that you can protect yourself in the event a suit is filed.
  3. Evaluate costs of conforming with Subtitle D, to determine options for the future, i.e., continuing to maintain operation, raising fees to pay for any additional requirements, closing or selling the operation, etc.
  4. Put required information in your operating record, and send CIWMB notification once the information has been placed in the operating record.
  5. Contact your Local Enforcement Agency or the CIWMB for information on permit revisions or modifications.
  6. Contact the Regional Water Quality Control Board if you have plans to expand the landfill, to ensure compliance with new water requirements associated with expansions.
  7. Analyze your operation to determine whether or not you wish to apply for alternatives in the designated areas of flexibility allowed under the state's program.