Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Meaningful Difference

The EPA has come to a predictable conclusion on the legality of "pumping polluted water from farms and suburbs into the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee":

"Clean water permits should focus on water pollution, not water movement," said Benjamin Grumbles, an EPA assistant administrator....
The logic behind this distinction is that water occasionally needs to be transferred from one place to another for legitimate reasons. Flood control is the obvious example; you can see how contaminated water might be released into a sensitive area during a flood, or in order to avoid one, although you might also feel that other, better flood-control options should be pursued.

Allowing polluted water to be transferred without treatment, for what the EPA calls "later public use," is a bit more troubling, especially given the EPA's highminded insistence that its primary concern is "to stop polluters from dumping waste into the nation's waterways."

Essentially, the EPA's stance is that the South Florida Water Management District doesn't dump any waste into the water in question; it simply moves already-polluted water from one place (e.g., the farms and suburbs whose runoff it has the legal right and the moral obligation to monitor) to another (e.g., a source of public drinking water).

What seems to be at issue is whether there's "a 'meaningful difference' between where the pump draws its water and where it deposits it."

If only there were some way of settling this question.

In other news:
Water utilities would get earlier warning of viruses, bacteria or chemicals that could be introduced into drinking water systems by terrorists under a test monitoring program set for expansion beyond Cincinnati.

The pilot program ordered by the Department of Homeland Security in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks uses continuous monitoring of public water for contaminants that could sicken or kill millions of people.


Peter Maier said...

As long as EPA does not consider nitrogenous waste (urine and protein) pollution, we will never implement the Clean Water Act, as it was intended. This waste not only, like fecal waste, exerts an oxygen demand, but also is a fertilizer for algae and aquatic plant growth, causing eutrophication and eventually dead zones.

The reason EPA ignored this pollution is caused by a worldwide incorrect applied pollution test that EPA used to base its NPDES discharge permits on.

Although EPA in 1984 acknowledged this incorrect use, in stead of correcting the test, it allowed an alternative test and now officially ignored this type of pollution and by doing so lowered the goal of the CWA from 100% treatment to a measly 35% treatment, without notifying Congress.

Other problems caused by this incorrect applied test are that we do not know the real performance of a sewage treatment plants and have no idea what the effluent waste loading is on receiving water bodies, besides the possibility that such plants are designed to treat the wrong waste in sewage.

Want to know more visit www.petermaier.net and read the description of this test (BOD) in the Technical PDF section.

Phila said...

Interesting info! Thanks very much.