News Feature | February 18, 2014

Utilities Push Wisconsin To Delay Phosphorous Rules

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

longlake

Wisconsin might push back the start date for expensive new phosphorous regulations. 

"Municipalities and business groups are backing a bill that would delay implementation of costly phosphorus reduction rules, and instead give communities and industry more time and flexibility to cut the algae-causing pollutant," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

The delay is supported by a large number of water utilities. "The new regulations are supported by more than 100 municipal treatment plants operators, and several business groups, which say current regulations will be too costly, are difficult to meet and may not solve algae problems in state waterways," the report said.

It continued: "The problem, says attorney Paul Kent, who represents more than a 100 treatment plants that make up the Municipal Environmental Group, is that some municipalities are preparing to renew their permits and encountering obstacles and heavy costs."

The chief complaint is that implementing the phosphorous rules could be expensive for the industry. Wisconsin Manufactures & Commerce, the state's largest businesses group, "has pegged the cost of the standard at up to $4.9 billion," the report said. 

Environmental advocates want the rule to hit the books soon. Clean Wisconsin lobbyist Amber Meyer Smith said her group's major grievance "is that a delay will harm the recovery of streams, rivers and lakes now plagued by algae," the report said.

The bill to delay the regulations had a hearing before the state legislature last week. Local officials see it as potentially mandating major spending that might fall on ratepayers and municipalities.  

"The Fox River falls short of the new standards and will require major enhancements to come into compliance," according to the Appleton Post Crescent. Appleton, for instance, "could face a $40 million bill to upgrade its systems," the report noted. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides some background information on phosphorous pollution in its literature. 

"The problem, says attorney Paul Kent, who represents more than a 100 treatment plants that make up the Municipal Environmental Group, is that some municipalities are preparing to renew their permits and encountering obstacles and heavy costs," the department said. 

Interested in utility management? Check out Water Online's AMR, AMI and metering resources

Image credit: "Long Lake, Wisconsin," © 2013 jondejong, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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