Wastewater, Stormwater and a Legislative Update

May 1, 2007
My 5-year-old son had an interesting question recently as we passed the Sweetwater Wastewater Treatment Plant off of Interstate 10 in Tucson, AZ, on the way home.

by Carlow David Mogollón

My 5-year-old son had an interesting question recently as we passed the Sweetwater Wastewater Treatment Plant off of Interstate 10 in Tucson, AZ, on the way home. “Papa, why do they call those circle things plants if they don’t have any plants,” he said.

Ah, it’s a wastewater treatment plant, which is sort of a factory where they have equipment that cleans water so it can be reused again, including to help grow plants,” I replied, with a small smirk from my wife who’d noticed I’d managed to dodge the question.

Still, wastewater discharges are serious issue for industry, even moreso with an expanding focus on industrial stormwater by regulatory officials. In this issue, we touch on that from a couple of angles, not least an article from Tetra Tech Inc., which has inspected thousands of plants for stormwater related discharges across the country for the EPA, as well as another from the Aarcher Institute on streamlining of NPDES pretreatment rules for industrial users.

On another note, in early May, I attended the 34th Washington DC Forum hosted by the Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA). The event, which draws about 60-75 executive level attendees, offers both a legislative update and a chance to hear the latest thinking on future trends direct from regulatory officials and related industry experts.

As usual, infrastructure investments were a hot subject, although underscored by a “paradigm shift” toward “green” or sustainable infrastructure with an emphasis on lifecycle asset and integrated water resource management. While attendees were happy about recent legislation passed by a Congress now led by Democrats to expand funding for the federal Clean Water State Revolving Funds, WWEMA president Dawn Kristof-Champney pointed out it simply said the government should spend the money; actual appropriations were still neded to put real dollars into the pipeline. She noted the Drinking Water SRF likely will be included in Senate legislation.

Meanwhile, a judge’s ruling last year in California that would force federal regulation of ballast water discharges - but anticipating clarifying legislation from Congress that never materialized with the shift from Republican to Democratic rule - has created a headache for the entire maritime industry, according to forum speaker Joel Mandelman, vice president and general counsel for NuTech O3 Inc. and head of the Shipping Industry Ballast Water Coalition. As such, the EPA will have to regulate the discharge of all “vessels,” large and small. Without clarifying legislation on the type of treatment required and exempting small watercraft, the problem for the shipping industry rests on the fact all ships would have to exchange ballast water at least 200 miles offshore, a not only costly proposition but one fraught with danger due to the potential to capsize in rough seas.

Among other WWEMA DC Forum topics were ongoing concern about endocrine disrupters, the Farm Bill and CAFOs, shrinking global water resources and coming technology shifts, and an outlook on material costs and spending for water and sewer projects.

Finally, I also recently had an opportunity to chat with Laura Demmons, CEO of Sylvan Source, and Donald M. O’Shei Jr., managing director of TriLateral Energy Inc., about creation in April of TriVan Infrastructure International, a joint venture to commercialize Sylvan’s ultra-clean water treatment technology, which also recently won a Frost & Sullivan award, for use in industrial and municipal water treatment and environmental remediation markets. You can read a web exclusive on this by clicking through from the online version of this column at www.industrialww.com

Carlos David Mogollón, Managing Editor

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