Report: Glenwood violated Clean Water Act twice in 2005 |

Report: Glenwood violated Clean Water Act twice in 2005

Pete FowlerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Glenwood Springs exceeded permitted levels of contaminants discharged into the Roaring Fork River twice in 2005, according to Environment Colorado.In a report released last week, Environment Colorado found two violations by Glenwood Springs. It determined that the city exceeded levels of contaminants it was permitted for discharging under the Clean Water Act by two percent in March 2005 and by 25 percent in September 2005.Environment Colorado said it gathered Environmental Protection Agency data on major facilities with discharge permits under the Clean Water Act by using a Freedom of Information Act request. The report covered facilities across the U.S. and said no data was available yet for 2006.Matthew Garrington, with Environment Colorado, said that for the two 2005 dates involving Glenwood Springs, bluntnose minnows were exposed to the contaminants in testing and at least 50 percent died.”In other words, when they tested that toxicity on aquatic wildlife, 50 percent died,” he said. “I can only say that for the contaminant, it was 25 percent over the EPA’s limit of what’s deemed safe. It represents a violation of the Clean Water Act on a particular date.”He said the purpose of the report wasn’t to say any organization that had a violation was a “bad actor,” but rather to bring to the public’s attention that major facilities are still polluting and violating water standards near the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.”We need to stay vigilant of water quality,” he said.Buddy Burns, superintendent of waste and wastewater treatment, said the city has had problems passing the fathead minnow portion of a 96 hour “wet test” due to unionized ammonia.”When the plant was designed, it wasn’t designed for removing ammonia,” Burns said. “That wasn’t even a concern back in 1977 or 1978.”The city tests the downtown treatment plant’s effluent into the Roaring Fork River with a private lab and results are sent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the EPA, he said.”Basically our effluent is good,” Burns said. “We meet all other standards for things like suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demand.”He said the plant has passed the two wet tests it’s done this year so far. The plant has outlived its usefulness, Burns said, and the city plans to construct a new and improved plant farther from the heart of the city to meet future demand. It will be designed for ammonia removal as well as other state-of-the-art procedures, he added. The city plans to make the move by 2014 and hopes to get it done earlier. Burns said work to start putting in the infrastructure should begin next year.The new plant should help things in Glenwood Springs, but Environment Colorado found many violations of the Clean Water Act.According to the report, in 2005 more than 45 percent of industrial and municipal facilities across Colorado discharged more pollution into waterways than their Clean Water Act permits allow. Glenwood Springs was the only entity to exceed its permit in Garfield County in 2005, but other nearby facilities that exceeded permitted amounts of contaminants discharged include the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District and the Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District.Nationally, the report found that 57 percent of more than 3,600 major facilities exceeded their Clean Water Act permit limits at least once in 2005.Environment Colorado criticized the Bush administration, saying it’s undermined the Clean Water Act.View the report at Click the link for reports on the right side of the window then the link for the report, titled “Troubled Waters: An analysis of 2005 Clean Water Act compliance.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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