Weekly News Briefs: State-Set Phosphorus Limits Worry Treatment Plants

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Like many municipalities in Wisconsin, the City of Vesper is concerned about costs associated with Environmental Protection Agency-mandated phosphorus limits, which will be phased in across the state over the next 20 years. Recently, officials from the state’s Department of Natural Resources sat down with Vesper officials to discuss those concerns. About 50 other municipal and business officials from across the state were in attendance to hear the DNR’s response.

In Vesper, residents are in the process of paying off a $1.8 million loan the village used to upgrade the wastewater treatment plants to reduce ammonia levels. Now, with additional phosphorus restrictions on the table, the village might need to increase sewage bills three or four times its current rate.

“Our biggest customer has a bill anywhere between $6,000 and $8,000 per month,” says Dan Scheunemann, Vesper village president to the Wausau Daily Herald. “If that increases three times its current rate, they’ll go somewhere else.”

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp suggested municipalities schedule small-group meetings with DNR employees to go through individual needs. Under existing law, a facility may apply for a variance if it “makes a strong economic showing that compliance would be too expensive.”

Bill SB 547, which is waiting Governor Scott Walker’s signature, provides some economic relief for wastewater treatment plants. The bill allows dischargers to participate in a multi-discharger permit variance from the phosphorus limit for up to four permit cycles. While under the variance, permit holders would also be required to meet established discharge limits and take steps to reduce phosphorus contributions from other sources in their watersheds, essentially sharing costs with nonpoint sources.

Source: Wausau Daily Herald, Lexology

Lagoon System Suffers After Hurricane Katrina
Officials in Hattiesburg, Miss, are debating how to fund improvements to a wastewater system that was affected by Hurricane Katrina. The lagoon system has come under fire from residents concerned about unpleasant smells that periodically settle over the city.

“Everybody knows that the aerators at our lagoon didn’t work for six or seven days (after Hurricane Katrina),” says Mayor Johnny Dupree. “We had no aeration in there at all.”

In January, the city signed a contract with Groundworx LLC to design, construct and operate a land-application system to disperse the city’s wastewater. Estimates on the system range from $126 million to $142 million.

Mayor Dupree has asked Gov. Phil Bryant for financial assistance from the remaining Hurricane Katrina Infrastructure Funds, Natural Resource Damage Assessment or RESTORE Act Funds.

“The facility was without power for approximately six days after the storm,” Dupree writes. “Upon restoration of the power, only an estimated 20 percent of the 156 aerators were operable. The aerator damage was due to a tremendous wave action on the surface of the lagoon system.

The city is rehabbing the lagoon and installing new aerators along with building a pretreatment facility to treat industrial waste, which will help with some of the odors.

Source: Seattle PI

Plant Shuts Down Sludge Incinerator, Plans Regional Composting Facility
The Glen Falls Water and Sewer Board (N.Y.) is planning to shut down the plant’s sludge incinerator by March 2016 rather than spend $3.5 million to comply with Environmental Protection Agency mercury regulations, which are part of the Maximum Achievable Control Technology.

The city of Glen Falls is joining local municipalities to study the feasibility of a regional sludge composting facility. The cost of the recycling facility combined with the costs of hauling and storage are equivalent to the upgrade needed for the incinerator.

“Potentially, we might have to spend a whole bunch more money for mercury emissions control,” says City Engineer Steve Gurzier.

Source: Post Star

Canadian Effluent Regulations Require Plant Upgrades
New effluent regulations in Canada could require 849 wastewater treatment plant upgrades by 2040. The Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations, which are part of the federal Fisheries Act, establishes a national baseline effluent quality standard.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, plants will be required to meet effluent quality standards for CBOD, suspended solids, un-ionized ammonia and residual chlorine based on plant size and other factors. Large wastewater systems that do not meet standards are considered high risk, and will have until Dec. 31, 2020, to meet quality standards. Plants at medium risk will have until 2030 and those posing low risk have until 2040. Risk factor will be determined by environmental impact.

The regulations will provide wastewater regulation consistency along with requirements for monitoring, record keeping and reporting.

Source: Mondaq


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