ADEM renews Demopolis permit

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Demopolis Water and Sewer Board application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) has been granted by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

The permit covers the board’s accepting and processing of leachate.

“Last Thursday, April 22, after taking into account comments from (the Environmental Protection Agency) and others, ADEM reissued the NPDES permit for the Demopolis wastewater treatment plant for another five-year term,” the board said through a prepared statement.

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“The reissued permit takes into account the leachate from the Perry County Associates’ landfill and ensures that there will be no pass-through or interference with the plant’s ability to safely and effectively treat all wastewater coming into the plant. The reissued permit contains new requirements for the plant to monitor and report levels of certain metals, specifically arsenic and barium, even though ADEM has determined that, based on available data, the low levels of these metals contained in the leachate from the landfill pose no reasonable potential to cause or contribute to excedances of water quality criteria. The renewed permit will enhance the board’s ability to continue its commitment to protect human health and the environment for the citizens of Demopolis.”

The board had been waiting on the renewed permit for several months, and operating under an administrative order from ADEM while the application process progressed.

The board is currently facing litigation from the Alabama Attorney General’s office, mostly unrelated to the permit.

“We applied for the permit late,” Water and Sewer superintendent Byron Cook said, “ but if we hadn’t missed the deadline, it would have been awarded long ago.”

Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson said he thought the permit’s renewal boded well for the treatment plant’s efforts to answer the Attorney General’s lawsuit.

“Bottom line is (ADEM) wouldn’t have renewed the permit if we weren’t handling what’s coming to the treatment plant properly,” he said. “There are some things out there that we need to correct, and we know we need to correct it because we reported the violations. But I think we’ve shown we’re operating aboveboard and we’re doing everything we can to do it the right way. When we slip up, we’re the first to recognize it and we work quickly to fix it.”