Municipal groups ask EPA to review SSO proposal

A coalition of municipal and technical organizations is asking EPA Administrator Christie Whitman to consider revising a proposed regulation on sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) that was signed by her predecessor.

March 19, 2001--A coalition of municipal and technical organizations, including the Water Environment Federation, is asking EPA Administrator Christie Whitman to consider revising a proposed regulation on sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) that was signed by her predecessor.

In the letter, the organizations (which constituted the municipal operator caucus during EPA's multi-year advisory committee process on SSOs), say that the proposed rule, while containing many positive elements, has the potential to "place most American cities in immediate and permanent violation of the law" and is based on the false premise that overflows can be eliminated.

The SSO proposal was signed by former EPA Administrator Carol Browner on Jan. 5, but publication of the proposal in the Federal Register was blocked by a Jan. 20 Bush Administration order that required any such proposals be reviewed by a Bush appointee before being carried forward.

In addition to WEF, the organizations signing the letter include the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, American Public Works Association, Tri-TAC (representing California POTWs and municipalities) and the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies.

In a related development, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) wrote to Whitman March 7 expressing concern about the status of rules that are being reviewed under the Bush order. Reid, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he was concerned about the number of rules that were being delayed. In response to Reid's letter, an EPA spokesman said that the SSO rule was not subject to any court-ordered deadlines and the new Administration has not decided what future action to take on it.

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