DC Water and Sewer Authority to Challenge EPA Complaint

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) plans to challenge an administrative complaint and $27,500 civil penalty filed on Aug. 23...

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) plans to challenge an administrative complaint and $27,500 civil penalty filed on Aug. 23 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In its complaint, EPA cited the authority for alleged reporting violations associated with a 2004 Safe Drinking Water Act administrative order addressing past problems of elevated lead levels found in some homes in the District.

The EPA complaint alleges data mismanagement and inconsistent reporting - factors which EPA claims delayed the agency’s review of WASA’s tap water samples and lead service line replacement program. The EPA complaint has no effect on any water quality issues. EPA’s subsequent review of sampling data confirms the continuing decline in lead levels in water to levels that meet federal regulations.

In reaction to the EPA citation, WASA General Manager Jerry N. Johnson said the authority plans to aggressively and vigorously challenge the complaint to the maximum extent possible.

“WASA has gone beyond EPA requirements in the number of lead service lines replaced and other activities undertaken to meet customer expectations for water quality,” Johnson said. “Our priority has been to ensure water quality for the district, and we’ve done that by working through a series of federal regulations with inconsistent guidance from EPA.”

WASA said that any data in its reports that was later questioned by either EPA or WASA was addressed in a manner consistent with federal regulations and the full knowledge and consent of U.S. EPA, Region 3.

“WASA is spending literally billions of dollars to comply with various public interest needs identified by EPA,” Johnson said. “The assessment of a $27,500 penalty is unfair to residents of the district and a blatant example of EPA’s response to WASA’s efforts to cooperate and meet and exceed customer expectations in the regulatory environment in which we operate.”

EPA Guidance Focuses On Impact of Operational Changes

EPA is releasing a draft guidance to help public water systems as they make operational changes to comply with drinking water regulations that control microbial contaminants and disinfection byproducts. As they work to provide safe drinking water, operators of public water systems must evaluate the effects that changes in the treatment process could have on their ability to meet multiple drinking water standards.

“This is an important step in completing our lead reduction action plan and helping utilities meet existing and new requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water.

The failure to carefully consider the effects of treatment system changes can result in problems that affect public health. For example, treatment changes to reduce disinfection byproducts could increase the corrosivity of drinking water, which, in the absence of adequate corrosion control, could result in an increase in lead in drinking water.

The revised manual builds on a similar manual developed for the Stage 1 Disinfection Byproduct Rule. It incorporates new research and case studies and is presented in a more user-friendly manner. Release of the guidance supports the Stage 2 Disinfection Byproduct Rule and is an action item in the Agency’s 2005 Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan.

EPA is soliciting suggestions and recommendations to make this draft guidance manual more complete and user-friendly and also plans to hold a public meeting in September to discuss the guidance. The draft guidance is available at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/disinfection/stage2/compliance.html.

EPA Report Examines Conveyance System Technologies

A new technology guide for municipal and utility collection system owners and operators is available from the EPA. The guide provides information about innovative and emerging technologies for the installation and repair of new and existing conveyance systems.

The nation’s conveyance system is comprised of over 21,000 collection systems accounting for more than 750,000 miles for publicly owned sanitary and combined sewers and 500,000 miles of privately owned sewers.

“This useful information will help advance our sustainable infrastructure agenda,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water.

The guide classifies the state of development for each technology as established, innovative, or embryonic and provides a Technology Summary Fact Sheet for each innovative and embryonic process with information describing the technology, cost data, contact information, and data sources.

The guide also includes data on cost-effective technologies for repair and rehabilitation of existing conveyance systems and preliminary information on emerging technologies for new installations and for the repair of existing conveyance systems. The use of these technologies may extend the service life of the existing collection system or greatly reducing the replacement, repair, operation, and maintenance costs for municipal utilities across the country.

For a copy of the report, visit the publications section on the OWM Municipal Technologies web site at: www.epa.gov/owm/mtb.

Best Practices For Small Water Systems

EPA has published quick reference guides to help certified operators and owners of small drinking water systems serving fewer than 10,000 people. Topics of the guides include best practices for general operating procedures, maintenance of distribution systems, vital record keeping, and building good working relationships with decision makers.

Information and copies of these guides are available on EPA’s Web site at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/smallsys/ssinfo.htm. Hard copies are available upon request through the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (telephone number 1-800-426-4791).

Guide Targets Agriculture Water Quality Trading

By selling the amounts of nutrients or sediment reduced by conservation practices, agricultural producers are finding opportunities to get paid for stewardship activities through water quality trading. A new manual, Getting Paid for Stewardship: An Agricultural Community Water Quality Trading Guide, helps interested partners get started. The guide has information for producers who want to develop a trading program in their watershed, provides a basic understanding of trading and includes contact information.

Produced under an EPA cooperative agreement with the Conservation Technology Information Center, the guide is intended for agriculture advisers and/or technical service providers. Copies of the document can be found on the web at: http://www.epa.gov/OWOW/watershed/trading.htm.

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