Davis County commissioners aren't happy about proposed federal pollution standards for storm runoff water, saying it could cost the county a lot of money for physical facilities and additional staff members.
Public Works Director Sid Smith Wednesday told the commission he's reviewed the standards, promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and sees it as a long-range expense to the county.The standards would require detention and monitoring of water going into storm drains, Smith said, and treatment of the water if it falls below the EPA pollution standards.
"Does this mean we have to clean up the water before we send it down the storm drain?" asked Commissioner William Peters.
"It looks like that," replied Richard Harvey, director of the county's environmental health division. "It looks like we have to clean it up before we send it into the Great Salt Lake, where it gets dirtied up."
Davis County's public works department is in charge of flood control and storm drain channels in the county and is the agency most directly affected by the EPA proposals. Smith said the standards have been just recently published and the EPA is asking for comments. He urged the county to oppose them.
Smith told the commission that, based on his calculations, the county will have to pay $83,000 for a storm drain runoff permit and to pay the costs of having the EPA monitor the drainage system.
And, to meet the standards, the county will probably need to hire an additional staff member with a background in engineering or chemistry to collect and test water samples and ensure the county's compliance, Smith said.
Harvey said the proposal to clean up storm runoff and then dump it into the Great Salt Lake is similar to the county's losing battle against sewage treatment effluent standards.
There again, he said, the county's sewer districts are required to run the effluent through expensive treatment processes, bringing it to an artificially high standard, before dumping it into the lake.
Smith said if the standards are adopted as proposed, future county flood control projects could have to include a settlement or detention pond capable of holding the runoff water for up to 24 hours and a skimmer.
That would allow sediment and debris to settle out, Smith said, and the surface skimmer would clean out floating debris.
The regulations could also require runoff control for residential developments over a minimum size and most industrial complexes, Smith said. A strict interpretation could require the county's road shop to store its road salt inside to prevent salty runoff during a storm.
Smith said the regulations are vague and unclear in many areas, including collection and disposal of agricultural runoff and whether irrigation water could be dumped into storm drain channels.
And, he said, it is unclear whether enforcement will be on an individual city, countywide or districtwide basis.
Harvey said the EPA is proposing to apply the regulations initially to high population areas, then, in a second round of application, begin enforcing them in lower population densities.
That, too, could affect how the county and its political entities fall under the regulations, Smith said.
Smith predicted the regulations will bring about more street sweeping, erosion control in flood channels and skimming of debris basins to control debris that eventually gets into the runoff streams.
He also outlined jurisdictional problems, saying the question of which agency is responsible for enforcement on federal installations, such as Hill Air Force Base, and interstate commerce facilities, such as railroads and petroleum pipelines, will have to be resolved.
Runoff from those facilities could go into the county's system, Smith said, but the county may not have have the legal power to force compliance.