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RMW - May 2017

20 | ROCKY MOUNTAIN WATER MAY 2017 FEATURE as the Wastewater Utility Council and South Platte (SP) CURE, a monitoring organization that utilities on the South Platte River formed in the ‘80s to assist the state by providing them with lots of data to help make better science-based regulatory decisions. We have put a lot of effort into educating the state and others on the relevance and validity of SP CURE data. It has also helped utilities and industries provide backup to the state when negotiating new discharge permits. We need to continue this educational work. We still have situations where there are differences of opinions and data goes a long way to support a position. Over the past five years, we and other utilities have had to start conducting much more instream monitoring to understand and help direct regulatory decisions. We have very dedicated people in the water sector who care for the environment. At times it feels that regulations get in the way of our commitment of being good stewards of the environment. Explain a bit more what exactly is causing this frustration. Sometimes the gap between regulators and utilities can appear to be very wide. For example, two different fish biologists can evaluate the same data but there is a lack of commonality on how to interpret it. The data we are collecting comes out the way it does and is usually very consistent, but the way one chooses to interpret that data depends on the side of the field you are on. It can be frustrating that we cannot agree on what the data means. L/E is subject to an anti-degradation review. The state puts a lot of safety factor on aquatic life protection but gives little safely margin for the reliability of treatment performance when setting effluent limits. What could help overcome these differences in your perspective in the future? We really need to come to a common ground on what it is we are trying to achieve. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is obligated to enforce regulations and our obligation is to produce clean water. We need to sit down and define how much flexibility we really have in the regulatory process. I know from having been a pretreatment regulator that we have a lot of flexibility if a regulator wants to allow for it. Thank you, Mary, for this conversation and for the more than three decades of services you have dedicated to our industry! Tanja Rauch-Williams, Ph.D., P.E., is a Principal Technolo-gist with Carollo Engineers, Broomfield, Colorado.


RMW - May 2017
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