EPA Action: New tests to detect previously undetectable bacteria

New test methods proposed yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency will lead to the detection of four types of bacteria in wastewater and sewage sludge...

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 11, 2005 -- New test methods proposed yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency will lead to the detection of four types of bacteria in wastewater and sewage sludge.

The EPA's proposal centers on culture-based approaches to detecting enterococci and Escherichia coli (E. coli) in wastewater. Additional tests will identify salmonella and fecal coliform bacteria in sewage sludge. The bacteria are seen as "health indicators" that point to possible contamination and the need for further investigation and treatment.

Until now, no EPA-approved tests were available to detect these bacteria in wastewater. The new tests will yield results within 24 hours and provide treatment facilities with an indication of the effectiveness of their treatment techniques.

"These tools have proved reliable through extensive testing and verification. They will increase our confidence in test results that detect bacteria in waste water and sewage sludge," said EPA Assistant Administrator Ben Grumbles. "Once these procedures are in place, they will better protect the public, particularly children who are often more vulnerable to bacteria-caused illnesses in water."

Information about this and other water analytical methods are available at: www.epa.gov/waterscience/methods.

In other news, the agency reported Tuesday that Brent Fewell has been appointed as the principal deputy assistant administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water. As the deputy to Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles, Fewell is responsible for advising in the development and implementation of critical agency decisions related to national water policy.

"Brent Fewell brings a tremendous set of skills, insights and balanced judgment to the national water program," Grumbles said. "With more than 15 years of environmental, legal, technical and policy experience, Brent will be a great asset to my office and to the agency."

A native of Greensboro, N.C., Fewell joined EPA in September 2004 from the Pittsburgh office of the international law firm Jones Day. He held that position for six years and counseled clients on a wide array of environmental matters, including environmental litigation, regulatory compliance, transactional liabilities, water quality, and the cleanup of contaminated properties.

Fewell, 39, previously served as an environmental scientist with several consulting firms, where he advised clients on human health and ecological risk assessments, environmental permitting, compliance auditing and impact analyses. He earlier focused on wetlands and endangered species during service with the National Wildlife Federation and North Carolina Wildlife Federation. He also worked for the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park.

Fewell graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in wildlife management from the University of Maine in 1988. He earned a master's degree in environmental management from Duke University in 1991, and a law degree from Duquesne University in 1998, where he served on the law-review staff.

In other EPA news, see:
-- "EPA to change effluent limit guidelines, pretreatment standards for iron, steel industry" (Aug. 10, 2005)...
-- "EPA Action: Federal plan to cut power plant pollution contested by six Northeast states" -- Also in this report (Aug. 8, 2005): Owner, operator of tanker plead guilty to dumping charges; Lead & Copper Rule working group being empanelled on public education needs; Security training modules for water utilities released; Scouts encouraged to participate Oct. 18 in World Water Monitoring Day; $100 million settlement reached for cleanup of Montana reservoir; Animal feeding operation air agreement signup period extended...

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