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Town Gaining the Advantage in Phosphorus Fight?

Officials said Monday that reimbursements could now be available and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is willing to talk further regarding the requirements.

Just one month after joining forces with area towns to fight back against stringent and expensive phosphorus regulations that could cost the town in excess of $30 million, the fight for “more realistic expectations” has appeared to turn in Southington’s favor.

Garry Brumback said the town appears poised to be eligible for grant funding and has been granted an extension to discuss the proposed regulations regarding phosphorus removal with the state Department of Energy and Environmental protection.

“I am cautiously optimistic,” Brumback said Monday night. “The state legislature has already agreed to change the word nitrogen to nutrient. It’s a move that would open up a possibility for the town to receive a 30 percent reimbursement.”

In January, Southington officials announced that the town would be looking to challenge a requirement that would force the Water Pollution Control Facility to make renovations that would reduce phosphorus levels to 0.2 mg/L in an effort to clean up the Quinnipiac River.

The requirement is part of that is overseen by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said.

Due to the strict requirements – other area towns including Meriden and Wallingford are required to reduce levels even further – the three communities have .

“The expectations are unrealistic,” John Dobbins, Southington Town Councilman and chairman of the council’s sewer committee, said earlier this year. “It’s something that could cost us millions with no real promise of a solution.”

Brumback said that if the town were to have a less strict set of requirements, such as reducing levels to a 0.7 mg/L, it would reduce startup costs to as little as $50,000.

But with the Quinnipiac River suffering from high levels of algae in past years, which can disturb the environment, Betsey Wingfield, bureau chief at the Water Protection and Land Use Bureau of the DEEP, said the requirements have already been reduced as much as possible.

Still, it appears that after legislators demanded earlier this month that the DEEP “work more closely with stakeholders,” there could be some give yet.

Brumback said he spoke with DEEP officials on Monday afternoon and is anticipating a letter that would “extend the conversation” regarding a less stringent standard as towns work to help meet the new federal requirements. He said the town is all for the clean up, but not at the costs it would take.

“There’s just no guarantee is works. We are happy to comply, but would like to see a more complete study done on how it will affect levels in the Quinnipiac,” Brumback said earlier this year.

“We are going to continue to push forward on that front, both legislatively and in working with the DEEP,” he said.

Paul J March 27, 2012 at 11:01 AM
This is a man who came from the oil fields of Texas. His concept of pure, clean streams is somewhat lacking. As the expert in the field, Betsey Wingfield, Bureau Chief at the Water Protection and Land Use Bureau of the DEEP, said the requirements have already been reduced as much as possible. What Brumback and these other environmental pseudo-experts (i.e,. professional environmental crackpots) like the other Town managers and guys like Mr. Dobbins are doing is attempting to cut funding for what's MINIMALLY needed and long-overdue. Their real goal is to retain funds for those important necessities like in our town, artificial turf, cameras on school buses, and other such nonsense. Do we really want to see the Quinnipiac River turned back to the open sewer culvert it was years back? That's what will happen if the townspeople and the State don't stand up and get vocal to this attempt to castrate a minimum program of reclamation.
Arthur Cyr March 27, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Wrong again "Paul J."..... Actually Mr. Brumback is from Florida. His last job just happen to be in a city in Texas, not the oil fields. A nasty & uncalled for comment. While you claim that the opponents of the 0.2mg/L are "professional environmental crackpots" (another nasty remark) they are simply challenging the unproven levels the DEEP is trying to start in this state with the Town of Southington. Implementing a 0.7mg/L level would reduce the plant phosphorus discharge by 60%-70% at a cost of $50,000. The 0.2mg/L would cost $30-$40 MILLION in plant upgrades!. The 0.2mg/L is NOT the minimum the DEEP can ask for, it is the Maximum. And look who (Paul J.) slipped off subject by talking about cameras, & artificial turf! We have already cleaned up many of our rivers from the mistakes of the 1800's to the 1970's. Citizens need to remember that the Sewer plant is not the only place DEEP could restrict, but it was the easiest place to start with excessive requirements.
Jane M March 28, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I believe he's right, Mr. Cyr. As I recall the write-up on him when his hire was announced, this was right in the oilfield business of Texas not out roping cattle in Laredo..
Arthur Cyr March 28, 2012 at 01:12 PM
No Jane M, he is incorrect. His negative attack on the qualifications and integrity of our new Town Manager ....."a man who came from the oil fields of Texas. His concept of pure, clean streams is somewhat lacking."...... is a smear, pure and simple. And wrong.

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