§ 142.20State-issued variances and exemptions under Section 1415(a) and Section 1416 of the Act.
(a) States with primary enforcement responsibility may issue variances to public water systems (other than small system variances) from the requirements of primary drinking water regulations under conditions and in a manner which are not less stringent than the requirements under Section 1415(a) of the Act. In States that do not have primary enforcement responsibility, variances may be granted by the Administrator pursuant to Subpart E of this part.
(1) A State must document all findings that are required under Section 1415(a) of the Act.
(2) If a State prescribes a schedule pursuant to section 1415(a) of the Act requiring compliance with a contaminant level for which the variance is granted later than five years from the date of issuance of the variance the State must—
(i) Document its rationale for the extended compliance schedule;
(ii) Discuss the rationale for the extended compliance schedule in the required public notice and opportunity for public hearing; and
(iii) Provide the shortest practicable time schedule feasible under the circumstances.
(b) States with primary enforcement responsibility may issue exemptions from the requirements of primary drinking water regulations under conditions and in a manner which are not less stringent than the requirements under Section 1416 of the Act. In States that do not have primary enforcement responsibility, exemptions may be granted by the Administrator pursuant to Subpart F of this part.
(1) A State must document all findings that are required under Section 1416 of the Act:
(i) Before finding that management and restructuring changes cannot be made, a State must consider the following measures, and the availability of State Revolving Loan Fund assistance, or any other Federal or State program, that is reasonably likely to be available within the period of the exemption to implement these measures:
(A) Consideration of rate increases, accounting changes, the appointment of a State-certified operator under the State's Operator Certification program, contractual agreements for joint operation with one or more public water systems;
(B) Activities consistent with the State's Capacity Development Strategy to help the public water system acquire and maintain technical, financial, and managerial capacity to come into compliance with the Act; and
(C) Ownership changes, physical consolidation with another public water system, or other feasible and appropriate means of consolidation which would result in compliance with the Act;
(ii) The State must consider the availability of an alternative source of water, including the feasibility of partnerships with neighboring public water systems, as identified by the public water system or by the State consistent with the Capacity Development Strategy.
(2) In the case of a public water system serving a population of not more than 3,300 persons and which needs financial assistance for the necessary improvements under the initial compliance schedule, an exemption granted by the State under section 1416(b)(2)(B)(i) or (ii) of the Act may be renewed for one or more additional 2-year periods, but not to exceed a total of 6 additional years, only if the State establishes that the public water system is taking all practicable steps to meet the requirements of Section 1416(b)(2)(B) of the Act and the established compliance schedule to achieve full compliance with the contaminant level or treatment technique for which the exemption was granted. A State must document its findings in granting an extension under this paragraph.