The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Opinion

December 1, 2012

Let's use the Clean Water Act here

A recent story in the Cooperstown Crier announced “Water quality group to learn more ab out Chesapeake’s TDML (Total Daily Maximum Load)” – just after I read remarks by Pete Didisheim, Natural Resources Council of Maine Advocacy Director, at Bates College on Oct. 1, 2012.

He spoke on the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, focusing on the cleanup of the Androscoggin River (one of the ten most-polluted rivers in the nation in the 1960s), through the use of new technologies, stiff penalties and citizen-suit provisions that allow members of the public to take polluters or agencies to court to keep our waters clean.

I have heard and read quite a lot about the Otsego County Quality Coordinating Committee during the last few years, but not a word about its regulatory authority. The press release for this meeting includes the following:

The members have technical expertise and knowledge and are committed to working to improve and maintain the quality of water in Otsego County through the reduction of non-point source pollution within its boundaries.

Without the will to engage in legal action against polluters, this is just talk, and this situation has gone on for too long.

In 1991, I asked the environmental administrator of the Biological Field Station to accompany me on a visit to the Village of Cherry Valley, and showed him where the local laundromat was dumping directly into the storm sewer, and a half-mile away where the soap suds were entering Cherry Valley Creek, a protected trout stream.

There was no action. In 1998, I threatened a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act against the DEC for permitting the laundromat to continue operating. It was closed, which created a hardship for many in Cherry Valley, but the alternative was to install a holding tank and have it pumped regularly, which the owner declined to do.

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