Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - July 29, 1999
July 29, 1999
Contact: John Millett, 202/833-4651, AMSA
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES (NLC)
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES (NACo)
ASSOCIATION OF METROPOLITAN SEWERAGE AGENCIES (AMSA)
AMERICAN PUBLIC WORKS ASSOCIATION (APWA)
WATER ENVIRONMENT FEDERATION (WEF)
Local Government Groups Resign From EPA Committee on Sewer Overflows
Washington, D.C. -- Five national organizations representing local elected officials, sewer system operators and other water quality professionals announced today that they have walked away from talks intended to result in new federal regulations for sewer overflows (SSOs). Over serious concerns that the process was leading inevitably toward huge public expenditures with little or no environmental or public health gains, NLC, NACo, AMSA, APWA and WEF withdrew to call attention to the need for technically and financially feasible regulations. The groups will continue to work on developing reasonable national policies to prevent sewer overflows that occur during heavy storm events.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency currently estimates that the SSO problem will cost local governments and their ratepayers $80-$90 billion. But the draft proposed regulations could drive these costs drastically higher, say the organizations.
The groups are also concerned that the draft proposed regulations would expose communities to frivolous lawsuits and allow state and federal regulators to micromanage local operations. Beulah Coughenour, Indianapolis/Marion County, IN City-County Councillor, pointed out that “limited local resources would be diverted away from other priorities, such as police, fire safety and schools.”
Jack Lynch, the elected chief executive officer of Butte/Silver Bow, MT, said that the local governments had walked away from the process with reluctance. “ We've put nearly five years into an intensive effort to work with EPA on regulations that are reasonable and affordable. Unfortunately, the process has derailed, and our only option is to abandon it and find other ways to protect our communities' interests.”
“Some SSO's are simply unavoidable, and federal regulations must recognize this fact,” said Gordon Garner, Executive Director of the Louisville/Jefferson County, KY Metropolitan Sewer District. “Leaving communities vulnerable to lawsuits and enforcement actions is no way to deal with this issue. The realities of operating a sewage collection system have somehow been lost in these talks.”