Monday, August 22, 2011

All For Naught?

Users of the Mohawk Valley Water Authority have faced increased water bills to pay tens of millions of dollars to construct new water tanks to hold the treated water from formerly open reservoirs. Per a 2009 independent auditor's report for MVWA, EPA regulations are to blame.
Essentially, all open reservoirs must be treated as a raw water source and either re-treated or eliminate the reservoir from daily use by means of covering the reservoir or constructing alternative tanks. 
Now that our water bills have been raised and the construction project to comply with the new rules is about complete comes this article from the Portland Mercury newspaper's blog ... about something happening in New York that might obviate the need to comply with these rules:  New York might just have saved Portland $500 million.
For seven years, the Portland Water Bureau and several activist groups have been fighting a national Environmental Protection Agency requirement stating that the city must cover its iconic reservoirs to protect against cryptosporidium . . .
In March, it looked like the city had lost and would have to spend $500 million to cover the city's five reservoirs...
But from the East comes a sign of hope! New York state is fighting the same rule, not wanting to spend $1.6 billion to put a concrete cap on an upstate reservoir. New York Senator Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to the EPA asking them to scrap the plan and, miracle of miracles, the EPA wrote back this weekend saying they would reconsider. If the EPA is willing to reconsider for New York, they could be willing to reconsider for Oregon, too!
In the early 1990's area residents were forced to pay for a multimillion dollar filtration plant ... a requirement that New York City managed to escape.  Now the same thing seems to be happening with the covered reservoir requirement.

Since there is no memory of MVWA or the earlier Utica Board of Water Supply ever having had a problem with water-borne diseases, these costly federal mandates appear to be unnecessary expenses, placing significant burdens on local residents and businesses and making the region uncompetitive. Perhaps we should have been more like Portland or New York City ... or allied ourselves with them in challenging the need for such rules.  

Anyway, it looks like NYC is getting another break ... too late to save Greater Utica's money . . . but perhaps in time for Portland.

No comments: