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Ohio EPA places city on “significant non-compliance” status

Ohio EPA places city on "significant non-compliance" status
Ohio EPA places city on "significant non-compliance" status

The City of Washington Court House is under intense scrutiny by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for violating an agreement that was forged in 2007, the Fayetteville Advocate reports.

According to the news source, the EPA alleges that the city violated the Clean Water Act several times since June 2011, with several instances reported at its wastewater treatment plant. An investigation into the plant's processes found that on several occasions, intolerable levels of pollution were knowingly pumped into Paint Creek. This natural flowing waterway snakes its way through several cities in the area, and it supplies roughly two-thirds of Washington's water needs.

The media outlet stated that the city currently uses a surface water system that is based on water from Paint Creek, and the city's drinking water supply is partially drawn from the water source.

"This isn’t a human health issue right now. It’s more of an issue for aquatic life," said Ohio EPA spokesperson Heidi Griesmer, "We find most cities are meeting their limits. It is not uncommon to have one or two violations per year, but it is uncommon to be in significant non-compliance."

Sheree Gossett-Johnson, an Environmental Specialist with the Compliance and Enforcement Unit of the EPA, first performed the environmental assessment in 2007, when he first said the facility was not in compliance. The inspection found that at times, pollution levels were triple acceptable amounts.

"On August 14, 2012, a Compliance Evaluation Inspection was conducted at the Washington Court House waste water treatment plant," said Gossett-Johnson. "Present for the inspection were Allen Dawson, and Ralph Fast, representing the City of Washington C.H., and John Owen and myself of the Ohio EPA, Central District Office, Division of Surface Water.”

According to the media outlet, the inspection was initially performed to assess the terms and conditions of existing permits, and also to determine the effectiveness of the facility's maintenance program.

The EPA's Clean Water Act created a basic structure for regulating the discharge of pollution into bodies of water, and for regulating the quality of surface waters across the country.

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