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Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD)

Comments of The Friends of Beargrass Creek followed by registered mail to Melinda Greene

Carol M Browner
September 10, 2000
USEPA Headquarters
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Washington, DC 20460

Melinda Greene
61 Forsyth Street, S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30303-8960

Re: Louisville and Jefferson County
Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD)
Pretreatment Project XL Final
Project Agreement (FPA) Comments

Dear Ms Browner and Ms. Greene,

The Friends of Beargrass Creek have followed carefully the development of this Project XL and have made considered comment at important stages. This project as proposed is not cleaner cheaper and smarter and approval will hurt the public's confidence and respect for EPA. MSD has produced a FPA that:

The Friends of Beargrass Creek have participated as a stakeholder group continuously throughout the Jeffersontown WWTP Project XL since it was convened in August 1998. Most meetings were attended by one or more members. We have attended more than a dozen meetings and made substantial written and verbal comments to the Phase 1 Agreement and to the draft FPA and now the Final FPA.

We strongly oppose EPA and KYDOW signing the Final Project Agreement for the following reasons:

1. Approval of the Project XL FPA will be an arbitrary and capricious decision that violates Project XL host agency screening criteria. The criteria requires rejection of project host agencies with who have enforcement problems. We have notified you of our concerns with the lack of state and Region 4 enforcement investigation into the collapse of the bioroughing tower No.2 at Morris Forman on December 22, 1995. If the NPDES authority if failing to investigate and enforce MSDs regulation of pretreatment clients--regulatory flexibility is unwise. A complete description of these allegations along with supporting documents has been supplied to Chief Arthur Collins in Region 4 by registered mail.

2. Deregulation to 40CFR403 rules is occurring. The proposed flexibility results in a shift in regulatory authority from federal EPA effluent limits imposed on indirect dischargers to allowing the local municipal WWTP pretreatment staff to assign load allocations according to their arbitrary calculations. We oppose EPA transferring to MSD authority over setting effluent limits for industrial indirect dischargers for obvious reasons that gave birth to the Clean Water Act. Strong federal authority is necessary because local MSD pretreatment staff serves the MSD Board of Directors who are political appointees with ties to the Chamber of Commerce and local member industries. Louisville's unique history includes the Ralston Purina hexane sewer explosion that demolished several city blocks and underscores our need for strong federal oversite of local regulators --not handing over authority.

3. The state and federal flexibility will result in waiving compliance with black-letter CWA regulations. The FPA wrongly denies this is an agency decision in the legal sense and insists that the FPA is only a voluntary, non-binding agreement. But, local pretreatment clients will receive new permits written under the flexibility and will be excused from monitoring and reporting requirements now required by federal regulation. Stakeholders properly reject Pretreatment Reinvention that is black letter deregulation for industry, but only voluntary for public consultation. The reporting requirements are insufficient and not clearly stipulated as to what must be reported.

MSD should be required to add new sections of regulation in this reinvention that spell out what monitoring and reporting it is legally required to do during the project under threat of enforcement. Public consultation rights are not protected and are not extended in this project by exchanging mandatory compliance for voluntary measures. More explicit and enforceable requirements for industries that are allowed to drop effluent testing should be added to the XL program with regard to P2 initiatives that must be implemented, reported and enforced. In her comments, Friends member Winnifred Hepler has asked that companies pursue zero discharge of pollutants and use recycling and reuse strategies. These proposals should have been detailed in the two year stakeholder process with proposed implementation by specific businesses to attract stakeholder support.

4. The mass loading calculations devised by MSD to serve as a basis for assigning industrial limits are not protective of the WWTP and receiving waters . The replacement of CWA concentration limits by locally estimated mass limits will allow acute concentrations in slug discharges to occur that are harmful to receiving stream animals. The fluctuations in concentrations are minimized by the MSD testing strategy. In that method, 96 seperate automatic grab samples are compositied to make a single daily sample. The seven daily samples are composited to give the flow and concentration values that are used to calculate industrial loading. This method is not as protective of the environment as the current system of concentration limits.

A forward thinking reinvention of pretreatment monitoring would provide a detailed view of an indirect discharger effluent over a period of weeks or months to accurately profile the danger to the WWTP and receiving waters.This method of averaging grab samples removes understanding of acute concentrations and produces a false static picture of fluctuating industrial loadings. Only indirect dischargers are interested in having limits set using fuzzy calculations from averaged data. This is not an innovative reinvention of municipal pretreatment progams-- it's deregulation.

5. Despite repeated requests, MSD never furnished any Jeffersontown WWTP monthly discharge reports to allow stakeholders to accurately track problem pollutants and plant performance. During the project, a major plant upset occurred due to a slug discharge. No details were provided and no SIU or other discharger has been identified as the source by MSD.

6. MSD furnished the 1999 Quarterly Sampling Data in July of 2000. The data is almost totally incomprehensible to the average stakeholder and the graphics do not encourage understanding but hamper accurate comparison and analysis. Good data presentation is supposed to be part of Project XL to encourage participation. The data in the sampling document is 96 grab samples taken in a single day with the auto sampler made into a composite sample for seven days. The seven daily samples are combined into a single sample. The concentration of metals and compounds in this highly averaged single sample is the data recorded in the quarterly sampling of the 20 collection points. This data is unfocused and tells little if anything about the actual performance of the indirect dischargers and the collection system fluctuations. Those interested in the exposure of receiving waters to acute concentrations have no reliable data to estimate the source or degree of risk. This would be essential knowledge that should preceed reducing regulatory requirements on indirect dischargers. It should have been in the report.

7. We oppose the transferring this program of deregulation to the Morris Forman collection and treatment system and to other MSD operated plants in Jefferson County.

The opportunity offered by Project XL to MSD for Pretreatment Reinvention that is cleaner, cheaper and smarter has been squandered for a proposal that is simply deregulation of the monitoring and reporting requirements which are now mandatory for specific businesses. The flexibility is based on a selection method that uses poor quality data and unfocused analysis and will increase the risk of harm to Chenoweth Run.

The Friends Of Beargrass Creek

Bruce Scott, president
Bud Hixson, vice president
Kate Cunningham, secretary
Brett Russell, treasurer
Winnifred Hepler, Board
Janice Walters, Board

Replies to: 1336 Hepburn Avenue #4 Louisville, Kentucky 40204 (502) 587-8016 Telephone

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