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Friday, August 6th, 2010

EPA to require phosphorous reduction

Celina wastewater

By William Kincaid
CELINA - The Ohio EPA soon will require the city's wastewater treatment plant to reduce the amount of phosphorous released into Beaver Creek.
And it may cost the city nearly $100,000 to construct the necessary building and purchase equipment to meet the unfunded mandate.
But wastewater plant superintendent Kerry Duncan said he hopes to obtain an extension from the Ohio EPA as the city tries to negotiate a water trading credit from the state to reduce phosphorus elsewhere in the watershed.
Such a credit, according to Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan, could possibly exempt the city from meeting the phosphorus reduction requirement.
One avenue to receive a credit is Optional Energy Partners' proposal to convert local farm manure into electricity - which Bryan said would prevent phosphorous from entering the lake.
The city would negotiate with the Florida-based company to obtain its phosphorous-reducing credits and thus forgo the need for new construction and chemicals at the wastewater treatment plant.
"We will be removing phosphorous somehow, someway," Duncan said, adding he hopes to meet with the Ohio EPA in the coming weeks.
Committee members Mike Sovinski and Ed Jeffries recommended this week that council members appropriate $92,000 from the wastewater reserve fund to a project account to pursue construction if a water trading credit is not obtained.
  June Scott, the third committee member, was absent at the utility meeting this week.
Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue emphasized that the money will be taken exclusively from the wastewater department's reserve fund, not the city's general fund, projected to have a deficit of more than $1 million next year.
The wastewater reserve fund has a current balance of $190,000, with another $28,000 expected to be added this year, Duncan said.
Currently, there are no limits regarding phosphorus discharge and the plant releases 2.4 mg per litter, Duncan said. The plant tests for phosphorous release twice a month.
  The EPA will require a maximum discharge of 1 mg of phosphorus per liter.
Sovinski said the new requirement doesn't sound like much, but it has a hefty price.
"It is substantial in my operating budget," Duncan said, explaining that to comply, new chemicals costing $22,000 a year must be added to the water before discharge.
All related construction must be completed by June 1, 2011, according to Duncan. Phosphorus discharge levels must be reduced by Dec. 1, 2011, he added.
The new phosphorus requirement was set by the EPA when the city applied for its most recent treatment permit renewal, according Bryan. The five-year permit was renewed in February 2007, a spokesperson at the Ohio EPA said.
The Ohio EPA, according to Bryan, completed a water test of Beaver Creek a few years ago. To improve the creek's water conditions, they set the new mandate for Celina to reduce its phosphorus level.  
Chemicals would be added to the water to collect the phosphorus in the plant's sludge, which is applied to land.
According to Duncan, the city would be required to reduce the plant's annual phosphorous release by 5.3 tons - lowering the current level from 9.17 tons to 3.8 tons.
Duncan said a recent state report and study determined that 41.9 tons of phosphorous are added to the lake each year through external loading, a number some at the meeting thought sounded low.
He emphasized to the newspaper that the data was obtained from the state, not his department, and suggested that farmers contact the Ohio EPA if they have questions.
Additional online story on this date
The state is pushing area ag producers to develop a land management plan and change their manure application process by 2012 and more personnel are coming to help with the process. [More]
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