MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 18, 2013

Progress against pollution evident

Annual review shows industrial users obey water regulations

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— An annual report shows “continued compliance” among the 13 significant industrial users that discharge pretreated effluents into Muskogee’s wastewater treatment plant.

During the reporting year, which ended Oct. 31, four violation notices were issued to four significant industrial users. Two violations were issued as a result of a user exceeding established pollution limits, and two others were issued to two companies that submitted late reports.

Environmental technician Ron Bladen said that when a user exceeds its limits, subsequent testing is required. Bladen said subsequent testing at the two companies reported to have exceeded limits — Owens-Brockway Glass Container Inc. and Dal-Tile — showed both had “come back into compliance.”

Bladen said this year’s report reflects a trend of “continued compliance” during the past few years. It shows significant improvement from 2007, when 39 violation notices were reported, including three for “significant noncompliance.”

“A lot of this is education,” Bladen said about the trend of continued compliance. “And a lot of the issues have been resolved — that is why we have the pretreatment program.”

Bladen said permit compliance with the city’s industrial pretreatment program is important for a couple of reasons.

Excessive levels of chemicals and other pollutants could upset the balance of the wastewater treatment process. That process employs living organisms that convert sewage into organic materials that often are applied to agricultural land as fertilizer.

Upsetting the plant’s biological balance could contribute to system failure or overloading. Either result could produce contaminated sludge, which would result with higher sludge disposal costs for the city.

The city regulates 13 local significant industrial users that discharge industrial waste into the city’s wastewater system. Three of those users are subject to limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the remaining 10 operate pursuant to technically based local limits.

Local limits are calculated using information about the city’s wastewater treatment process and water quality standards of the receiving streams or rivers. Local limits are recalculated every five years when the city’s wastewater treatment permit is renewed.

There are other local companies that treat industrial wastewater discharged into places other than the city’s wastewater treatment system. Those treatment plants are regulated by the state and are excluded from the city’s annual report.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.