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Thursday, May 26, 2016

State regs reviewed at water conference

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A major draw each year at the Water and Wastewater Conference held in Monett is the "world famous all-night slow-cook barbecue" provided by Water Products of Oklahoma. The long line of municipal workers stretched well outside the Monett City Park Casino for the guaranteed-to-please meal. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Representatives of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provided updates on state regulations and requirements that may change for municipal water operators at the Missouri Water and Wastewater Conference for the Southwest Section, held at the Monett City Park Casino on Tuesday.

Greg Perkins, water pollution engineer for DNR's Springfield office, reported the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will have municipalities shift from testing for traces of fecal coliform in water to measuring for E. coli bacteria. The switch will come when each town's water permit comes up for renewal.

Perkins said the presence of either bacteria indicates contamination that may cause sickness. The same test can be used for either bacteria. EPA is presently discussing switching to a test for enteroccus, a different bacteria, by 2012.

A major change, also dictated by EPA, will affect towns that have auxiliary basins for storing excessive water runoff, or outfall, like the lagoon Monett has outside the waste treatment plant. DNR would permit discharge from such lagoons, but EPA will no longer accept direct discharge into streams.

Consequently, Perkins said DNR will allow such lagoons to be used for storage, but the effluent will have to be treated. Towns with extra lagoons will have to find a way to pump contents into the wastewater plant in the future. The change is part of the ongoing effort to limit or eliminate storm water runoff from getting into the sanitary sewer system in the first place.

Tony Dohmen, wastewater engineer from DNR's Jefferson City office, spoke about sludge produced at wastewater plants. According to Dohmen, EPA will come down on cities putting sludge on fields already high in phosporous or nitrogen.

Dohmen urged operators to get fields used for sludge disposal tested before use. Dohmen urged early testing and having places farther away to take sludge if tests show high phosphorus or nitrogen levels. Having room to possibly store a year's supply of sludge is recommended.

DNR has not been asked to limit phosphorous disbursements yet, Dohmen said, but he fully expected the time was drawing closer.

Some cities have had heavy metals, like chromium, in their wastewater sludge. Problems have arisen when such metals are spread on farm fields. Dohmen advised testing sludge to avoid problems.

Jacques Martineau, water specialist with DNR'S Springfield office, reviewed changes in the groundwater rule. According to Mark Rader, section chief for water, air and land at Springfield's DNR office, the change in groundwater rules again comes from the EPA. In the past, pollution control strategies like chlorination have addressed issues like deteriorated distribution systems where bacteria may accumulate. Now, EPA is refocusing on the water that comes out of the well itself.

Samples from wells in addition to homes will be mandated. Rader said trainers like Martineau will spend more time with operators walking them through necessary tests and taking more samples at different locations.

Rader expected more systems would be required to add chlorination. The new emphasis would be on finding potential problems before chlorination becomes part of the equation.

"For an operator, a lot comes back to recordkeeping, doing tests, keeping records properly and maintaining good and accurate documentation," Rader said.

Other speakers included: Tom Stechmann from Utility Services who recommended ways to keep water storage tanks clean and working well; Tyson Markham from the investment banking firm of McLiney and Company who talked about financing a water system project; Jim Mulcahey from Brenntag Mid South who discussed storing chemicals for system operations; and Phil Walsack from the Missouri Public Utility Alliance who shared strategies for resolving inflow and infiltration problems.

The conference, which was attended by a large crowd, provided a wide range of technical advice to water and wastewater operators.

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