Thursday, December 01, 2005

Follow up: as in Missouri, the EPA requires states to designate streams that the public is likely to use for recreation; get out the rafts and innertube and head out to the ole' swimming hole. I cant wait to go rafting on the Salt Creek between Hickman branch and Beal Slough; check for a creek in your area. The Federal Environmental ProtectionAgency requires Nebraska state environmental regulators to study all of Nebraska's waterways and determined which ones people are likely to use for recreation. The EPA requires higher water quality standards on those streams . The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is proposing to add 3,200 miles of waterways to the existing list, including a portion of Salt Creek near Lincoln. The changes will expand the mileage of protected streams by about 70 percent. The proposed list, if approved Friday by the Nebraska Environmental Quality Council, would mean that regulators believe 49 percent of the state's waterways are likely to be used by people. Sections of some of the state's most notable rivers and creeks have been added to the list for stricter water quality standards: the Papillion Creeks in the Omaha area, the South Platte River, the Niobrara and Republican Rivers.In addition to Wayne, communities such as Seward, Paxton and Ogallala will have to make changes to their sewage treatment facilities. The City of Wayne NE plans to spend $90,000 adding ultraviolet disinfection.treated wastewater is run through pipes illuminated by ultraviolet light, which kills bacteria. John Bender of the Department of Environmental Quality also sees the proposed rule as a significant change for the better. While it doesn't address the problem of livestock runoff, it will reduce the amount of bacteria entering the state's waterways from human waste, he said. Nebraska will give the 47 communities affected by this new rule at least five years to comply, Bender said.The statewide cost of compliance for those communities is expected to be about $2.6 million. Or they'll be able to store the treated wastewater during warm months and discharge it into creeks in winter when people typically wouldn't be in creeks. The EPA threatened to take control of stream designations unless the State acted, of course with prodding from private environmental advocacy organizations More Nebraska communities could have been facing these additional costs if the state hadn't acted. Bender said the EPA had threatened to give Nebraska a blanket designation if the state hadn't made its own determination. That would have almost doubled the cost of compliance. John DeLashmit of the Kansas City, Mo., office of the EPA said the agency risks being sued if it doesn't push states to implement clean water rules. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, and this is one of a number of key provisions that have not been fully implemented. The regional EPA office lost a lawsuit in Kansas over this issue and faced a suit in Missouri. In Iowa, environmentalists have been pressing for compliance, and the state is coming up with its list Duane Hovorka of the Nebraska Wildlife Federation said the change is welcome but overdue. More work, though, is needed to address water quality.

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