Groups Present EPA with Proposed Blending Guidance

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have developed a draft guidance document designed to help utilities with stormwater blending.

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have developed a draft guidance document designed to help utilities with stormwater blending. NACWA and NRDC have presented the draft guidance to EPA and are encouraging the Agency to consider adopting the guidance as its approach to blending.

EPA originally proposed to let wastewater facilities discharge inadequately treated sewage into waterways during rainy periods when flow exceeded a plant’s capacity. Last April, EPA encouraged NRDC and NACWA to draft an alternative plan. EPA withdrew its own proposal in May, just before Congress blocked it.

NACWA said the draft “Guidance on Peak Wet Weather Flow Diversions” provides EPA with a way to resolve an issue that had become highly politicized and appeared to be at an impasse.

NACWA said many municipalities have high wet-weather influent flows that exceed the treatment capacity of existing secondary treatment units. In these situations, wet weather flows are sometimes diverted around secondary treatment and then either recombined with flows from the secondary treatment units or discharged directly into waterways.

The NACWA/NRDC guidance only applies to those diversions as they are recombined, and as they occur in separate sanitary sewer systems. Peak wet weather diversions in combined sewer systems are already regulated in a similar way under the 1994 Combined Sewer Overflow Policy.

The guidance would seek to minimize or eliminate peak wet weather flow diversions in a variety of ways, such as by enhancing storage and treatment capacity and reducing sources of peak wet weather flow volume.

“We put our heads together and came up with a workable plan that will protect public health,” said Nancy Stoner, director of NRDC’s clean water project. “Now the EPA should endorse it and put it in place.”

EPA Issues Report on Great Lakes Task Force

EPA has issued a Great Lakes Interagency Task Force report that is critical of an over-reliance on federal funding.

The report details the task force’s activities since President George W. Bush created it in May 2004.

The report discussed the construction of the dispersal barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to help prevent the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species into the Great Lakes. It also discussed implementation of a law to accelerate remediation of contaminated sediments in the lakes.

The task force, under the lead of EPA, united 10 agency and cabinet officers to provide strategic direction on federal Great Lakes policy, priorities and programs. The 10 agencies administer more than 140 federal programs that help fund and implement environmental restoration and management activities in the Great Lakes basin.

In the report, the task force said the group’s July 7 strategic plan “does not take into account the ongoing federal, state, tribal, and local investments in the Great Lakes and how to focus those substantial resources to maximize results.”

EPA Reaches Settlement on Airline Drinking Water

EPA has reached settlements with 11 major domestic airlines and 13 smaller airlines to ensure the safety of the drinking water they provide.

The airlines agreed to routinely monitor the quality of water on their aircraft. The action came after an EPA investigation of 327 U.S. and foreign planes at 19 airports in 2004 found total coliform contamination in the drinking water in 15% of aircraft.

The settlements require the airlines to regularly monitor aircraft water systems, notify EPA and the public when tests reveal contamination, and regularly disinfect aircraft water systems and water transfer equipment. The orders also require each airline to study possible sources of contamination from outside of the aircraft.

Ben Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Water, said: “The water passengers drink on a plane should be as safe as the water they drink at home. The settlements show that it’s time to fine-tune and upgrade EPA’s water regulations to specifically address airplanes.”

The settlements covered AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Aloha Airlines, American Airlines, America West, ATA Airlines, Champion Air, Continental Airlines, Continental Micronesia, Falcon Air Express, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, Miami Air International, Midwest Airlines, North American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Pace Airlines, Ryan International Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, USA 3000 Airlines, and World Airways.

EPA is negotiating agreements with Omni Air International, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Southwest Airlines. It also will work with smaller, regional and charter airlines to ensure drinking water quality.

Meanwhile, EPA is developing regulations for water that is served onboard aircraft. EPA held a public meeting in June in preparation for those rules. WW

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