State News

Colorado River Task Force Identifies Pollutants of Concern

The Clean Colorado River Alliance (CCRA) has identified the main pollutants of concern potentially affecting water quality in the Colorado River on which the group's work will focus.

The list, announced on July 26, includes: nutrients such as nitrogen, nitrates and ammonia; metals including chromium and uranium; perchlorate, endocrine-disrupting compounds, pathogens, salinity and sediment.

Septic tank systems in several communities along the Colorado River have contributed to nitrate concentrations. A large uranium mill tailings pile near Moab, Utah is the primary source of uranium potentially impacting the Colorado River, and the primary source of potential perchlorate contamination has been identified as the Kerr-McGee manufacturing facility located outside of Las Vegas.

"The Colorado River is the lifeblood of Arizona," Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens said. "The CCRA's identification of pollutants of concern is an important step towards developing a comprehensive strategy to protect the Colorado River."

The CCRA consists of more than 30 leaders from communities along the Colorado River and throughout the state appointed by Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) to develop recommendations to address existing water quality problems in the Colorado River and lay the foundation for a regional framework for future water quality protection. In 2004 the Colorado River was named the #1 "Most Endangered River" in the country by American Rivers, based on contamination risks affecting the river.

The CCRA will hold several meetings and will present its recommendations and proposed action plan to the governor in December. Information about the CCRA can be obtained on ADEQ's Web site (http://www2.ev.state.az.us/environ/water/ccra.html).

Upper San Joaquin River Basin Storage Investigation Initial Alternatives Information Report Available

On July 21, the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources have made available the Initial Alternatives Information Report (IAIR) for the Upper San Joaquin River Basin Storage Investigation (investigation). The IAIR is an interim planning document in the development of a Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement. The IAIR describes without-project conditions and water resources problems, defines study objectives and constraints, screens surface water storage measures, describes groundwater storage measures development, and identifies preliminary water operations rules and scenarios. Retained storage measures and water operations scenarios will be included in the initial alternatives as the Investigation proceeds.

The IAIR is available online at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/sccao/storage/index.html; click on "Documents." For additional information or to request a copy of the report, please contact Sammie Cervantes at (916) 978-5189 or scervantes@mp.usbr.gov.

Licking County, Ohio, To Improve Wastewater Treatment Plant To Settle Government Lawsuit

EPA Region 5, the Department of Justice and the state of Ohio have recently settled with Licking County, Ohio, for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at its wastewater treatment plant in Buckeye Lake. The county, located in central Ohio near Columbus, has agreed to pay $75,000, split between the state and federal governments, and make improvements to the plant to prevent future violations, EPA announced on July 22.

"Licking County has agreed to a rigorous schedule of improvements to the Buckeye Lake wastewater treatment plant that will help prevent future pollution of the Licking River," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur.

"This settlement is an important step toward improving wastewater treatment operations at Buckeye Lake, which is especially critical since the area is experiencing such rapid growth," said Ohio EPA Director Joseph P. Koncelik.

A lawsuit filed at the same time as the settlement alleges that starting in 1992 the treatment plant had numerous violations including discharging excess amounts of pollutants to the South Fork of the Licking River, allowing pollutants to bypass and overflow the treatment system, failing to perform required tests to analyze pollutants, failing to properly manage and dispose of sludge from the treatment process, allowing sludge containing excess amounts of molybdenum to be applied on land, and failing to comply with an EPA administrative order.

The county has submitted a corrective action plan that includes schedules for capital improvements, maintenance and other steps needed to permanently eliminate bypasses and discharge violations. By Dec. 1, 2007, the county shall complete all the steps set out in the plan and provide capacity for full treatment of all wastewater entering the plant.

The consent decree (PDF format) is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Licking_County_CD.pdf.

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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