The USCM praised the EPA at a meeting this month for its willingness to discuss a more flexible enforcement policy, according to the organization’s October newsletter. The National League of Cities and National Association of Counties also have agreed to participate.
At issue is an estimated $500 billion national “needs gap” for water and wastewater projects, operations and maintenance over the next 20 years.
A June resolution by the USCM supports the EPA’s new, voluntary, integrated planning and permitting policy aimed at helping local governments set up a “prioritized path” to meet regulatory standards.
But it also calls on Congress to allow enforcement delays for participants, and to free up more grant funds for fixes.
Rome Water and Sewer Director Leigh Ross said the city’s sewer treatment operations will be affected when the Georgia Environmental Protection Division sets new limits on phosphorus discharges and the amount of dissolved oxygen in the Coosa River at the Alabama state line.
The regulations have been in the works since the mid-2000s, however, and Rome has partially prepared via upgrades made in 2007 at its Black’s Bluff wastewater treatment plant.
“We put in the equipment that will be necessary if the (dissolved oxygen) limit is what we thought it would be. If it comes in higher, we’ll have to spend a lot for upgrades,” he said.
Cave Spring just got socked with an $840 fine for a sewer system overflow, its second this year.
Mayor Rob Ware said improvements to the treatment plant were funded at the same time as Rome’s, through the 2003 special purpose, local option sales tax package. Now, the small system that mainly serves downtown Cave Spring has problems only when it rains.
“When we have a lot of rain, sometimes it’s more than it can handle,” Ware said. “But we don’t have plans for any capital improvements. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”