In this week's water and wastewater news, senior official Betsy Southerland leaves the EPA with a scathing farewell message renouncing Administrator Scott Pruitt's handling of the agency; and an Indiana wastewater superintendent is suspended after the start of an FBI investigation
A 30-year U.S. EPA senior official left federal service Aug. 1 convinced that her agency is being steered in a disastrously wrong direction, according to her farewell message posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Betsy Southerland has a Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering and has worked in both the private sector and state government. At the EPA, she served in both the Water and Superfund programs as a senior executive, managing first as a division director in both programs and then as the director of the Office of Science and Technology in the Office of Water. In 2015 she received the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award.
As an eyewitness to the wreckage caused by Administrator Scott Pruitt and his cadre of political appointees, Southerland warns in her farewell message that Pruitt has “repeals of 30 rules under consideration” most of which aim at “industry deregulation” of an array of toxic substances and practices that can threaten human health; seeks “abandonment of the polluter pays principal that underlies all environmental statutes;” and is pursuing policies that promise to repeat human health and environmental catastrophes, such as Flint, Michigan’s drinking water crisis.
Terre Haute Wastewater Superintendent Suspended During FBI Investigation
Following a recent FBI investigation into plant operations, Terre Haute, Indiana’s Board of Sanitary Commissioners has suspended City Wastewater Superintendent Mark Thompson with pay.
Two Class IV operators employed by the city will manage the facility in the interim.
Board attorney Terry Modesitt acknowledges the FBI investigation. “We do know from people they have contacted here at the city that they’ve stated Mark Thompson is the target of that investigation.”
The FBI has yet to comment on the investigation other than to confirm it is happening.
Source: The Rushville Republican
Operator Error Leads to 1 Million Gallon Holding Tank Overflow
An operator’s error at the South Bend (Indiana) Wastewater Treatment Plant caused a 10,000-gallon spill of partially treated wastewater into the St. Joseph River.
The error caused a holding tank to overflow an estimated 1 million gallons within the facility, and workers cleaned all of it but 10,000 gallons before it spilled into the river.
Contributing factors to the spill included an ongoing construction project at the plant and heavy rains the night of the accident, according to the city’s utilities director.
Source: The Sacramento Bee
Residents of Pennsylvania Town Debate With Water Utility
Residents of Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, crowded a recent hearing held by Pennsylvania-American Water Co. to voice complaints about water quality and a proposed $108 million rate increase.
One of those in attendance presented two bottles of water he filled from his tap, saying they were representative of the water quality residents have been getting.
Administrative law judge Dennis Buckley allowed the bottles of water to be admitted into the record, noting that one was brown from manganese and the other was clear by had an unidentifiable particulate floating in it.
Company President Jeff McIntyre says the company has been addressing brown water and that the rate increase will help upgrade the treatment facility. “The manganese in the raw water has come up over time and created challenges,” he says.
Source: The Morning Call