My name is Mike Ristuccia and I am one of the Commissioners on the Town of Fairhaven’s Board of Public Works. Beth David has been gracious enough to allow me to provide a “once in a while” tidbit designed to give a brief history and explanation of the new sewer discharge permit which the Town will be forced to comply with. What follows will be the first such snippet.
In 1972, Congress passed Public Law 92,500 which is known as the Clean Water Act (CWA). This act established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States.
When the CWA came into existence, nitrogen was not a parameter of concern as scientists were unaware of the deleterious effects of this pollutant. As a result, the design of most wastewater plants (including Fairhaven’s) did not contain nitrogen removal capabilities as this was not a concern that Congress had targeted when these facilities were being built.
In 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued the Town a draft sewer discharge permit which contained a nitrogen limit for the first time. Whenever a draft discharge permit is issued, the law requires a 30 day period when the EPA will accept comments on the contents of said permit. This allows for the potential of any last minute modifications. Once comments are received and reviewed the permit becomes final.
At that time, the Town hired both a legal team and a water quality modeler to review and provide comment on the validity of the New Bedford inner harbor pollutant study (conducted by UMASS) which was used as the basis for the draft discharge permit. Although the comments were submitted and received, the US EPA took no action further in this matter until 2017.
Until next time….
Mike Ristuccia, Chairperson, Fairhaven Board of Public Works
508-999-3321, Ext. 424.
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