The North Davis County Sewer District has given Hill Air Force Base 30 days to explain how it will comply with industrial wastewater pretreatment standards.
The sewer district board Thursday night voted unanimously to set the one-month deadline and to have its attorney start formal proceedings to collect more than $250,000 owed the district by HAFB.District Manager Robert Hohman told the board the base continues to exceed acceptable amounts of "total toxic organics" in its sewage piped to the district. The so-called "TTO's" include solvents and other chemicals that can be found in industrial wastewater.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency had given the base a Feb. 14, 1986, deadline for compliance. But the district, which is responsible for enforcing EPA regulations, had been holding off any action because the base was building a $2 million TTO pretreatment facility to solve the problem, officials said.
"The pretreatment plant started operating in December, but in January and February their (Hill officials') own reports showed they were still out of compliance," Hohman said.
Base spokesman Len Barry said Friday the majority of problems surfacing at the TTO facility in its test phase have been corrected.
"An analysis we took toward the end of last month showed we were in compliance at that time. The only problems remaining now are minor and we expect to have those worked out in the near future," Barry said.
Hohman said the EPA is starting to pressure the district to ensure Hill's compliance.
"I think we need to take very positive action or EPA is very seriously considering imposing a fine," he said.
District legal counsel Felshaw King told board members that if EPA imposes a fine on the district, there is some question whether the district can pass that fine on to the base due to governmental immunity.
Marshall Fischer, EPA regional pre-treatment coordinator in Denver, said Hill has been unable to consistently meet EPA requirements regarding the total toxic organics.
"If the situation persists, it may come to a point where we have to leverage them (the district) with a penalty, particularly if it causes violation of the North Davis permit" that allows the district to operate and discharge treated waste into the Great Salt Lake, Fischer said.
At King's suggestion, board members agreed to go directly to the base commander on the compliance issue. If that doesn't work, King said, a hearing will be held at which the base would show why the district should not sanction Hill for non-compliance.
Hohman said that over the past three years, Hill also has under-paid the district for services rendered by more than $250,000.
The service contract says the fees will be based on sewage output, but Hill apparently has been basing its payments to the district on a percentage of the water it takes in, Hohman said.