Forum Speakers Outline EPA Agenda

Senior executives from the nation’s leading producers of water and wastewater technologies came together May 7-8 at WWEMA’s Washington Forum to learn what lies in store for the industry.

Senior executives from the nation’s leading producers of water and wastewater technologies came together May 7-8 at WWEMA’s Washington Forum to learn what lies in store for the industry.

1998 marked the 25th year WWEMA has met in the nation’s capital to address legislative, regulatory and international trade initiatives affecting the markets served by its members. Attendees were enlightened by presentations from federal officials, congressional journalists, utility managers, international trade specialists, market analysts and industry association representatives who spoke to the theme: “Water & Wastewater Industry: After 25 Years of Progress, What Lies Ahead.”

Bob Southworth of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) explained that the Clean Air Act may subject 230 sewage sludge incinerators at 185 publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) to new emission standards, parameter monitoring and operator training and certification requirements. When asked whether these requirements could eliminate incineration as a disposal method, Southworth observed that it remains to be seen how the final rule will be interpreted.

Not mentioned, but of equal concern, is possibility that POTWs could be designated as “major” dischargers of hazardous air pollutions and be subject to stringent emission controls.

Control of discharges from animal feeding operations was the central theme of the wastewater regulatory session, with Mike Cook of USEPA noting that “EPA is looking to develop new effluent guidelines for things that moo, cluck & oink.”

Regulating animal wastes is one of the many action contained in the President’s recently-released Clean Water Action Initiative to curb polluted runoff from farms and city streets, reduce toxic contaminants and harmful organisms in drinking water and fish, and promote community-based watershed management. Other action items mentioned by Cook include establishing numeric criteria for nitrogen and phosphorous by 2000; quantifying risks and employing methods to deal with atmospheric deposition of nitrogen compounds; and developing national standards for on-site sewage disposal system.

Norm LeBlanc, chief of technical services for Hampton Roads Sanitation District, presented the municipality’s perspective on the challenges which lie in store for POTWs in their effort to comply with a host of environmental statutes while keeping rates in line with consumer demand. He noted that WWEMA’s membership represents the “Who’s Who” of his facilities’ O&M resource library.

Alan Roberson, AWWA’s director of regulatory affairs, described the components of the soon-to-be-released Stage 1 Disinfectants-Disinfection By-Products Rule (D/DBP) and Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (IESWTR) which will tighten turbidity standards, requiring monitoring of individual filters for the first time; lower the maximum contaminant levels of trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids and bromate; require sanitary surveys; and establish a goal of zero for cryptosporidium for communities serving greater than 10,000 persons.

Tom Grubbs of the USEPA discussed the complex Information Collection Rule requiring public water systems to collect information on the presence and levels of microbial contamination and disinfection by-products and on the effectiveness of granular activated carbon and membrane processes in reducing those levels. About 500 utilities are involved in this effort, for a total cost of $130 million expended over a three year period beginning in 1997.

Tracy Bone of the USEPA and John Trax of the National Rural Water Association discussed the upcoming Ground Water Rule which will require disinfection, as necessary, for water systems using ground water. EPA is in the process of first determining which of the 160,000 ground water systems are susceptible to microbial contamination. The rule is scheduled to be proposed by March 1999 and finalized by November 2000.

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