Aug 23, 2018

Tug of War

brett quillen

With environmental concerns only gaining more real estate in the public’s mind, it will be interesting to watch the more highly-scrutinized push and pull of industries and their byproducts with state and federal environmental regulations. This jockeying for control has always been present in the battle between business and regulatory bodies, but it is unlikely that such conflicts have ever been as highly visible as they are now.

For instance, in May 2018, it was reported that more than two dozen coal-fueled plants on the Ohio River would attempt to curb the powers of the Ohio River Water Quality Commission, which is responsible for the oversight and water quality of the 981-mile river. The industrial utilities are hoping to strip the commission of its ability to impose toxic industrial wastewater dumping regulations with the argument that too much bureaucracy already exists. Historically, the commission’s regulations have been far more stringent than state or federal standards. This would leave regulatory power to the state government, likely loosening restrictions on the industrial utilities wastewater discharge processes.

On another front, state regulators are tightening the leash on industrial wastewater operations. Recently, the Washington state Department of Ecology announced it would require more than 100 wineries throughout the state to possess a permit to discharge wastewater beginning in 2019. The wineries will be held to standards similar to those of other industries, including fruit packing and vegetable processing.

Of course, any number of factors play into these decisions, but it is fascinating to watch the direction the overarching tide begins to flow over a longer period of time. Is the proper path being forged or are we are beginning to stray from greener pastures? The most heartening developments inevitably arise when both sides can win, when an industrial operation that discharges wastewater takes that responsibility seriously, develops an innovative, resourceful technology that reduces its environmental footprint while saving itself money. Such is the case with Austin Allred’s dairy farm in Royal City, Wash., wich uses worms for filtration, creates fertilizer as a byproduct and saves a bundle on costs. According to Allred, more than 74 million gal of wastewater have already been reclaimed as a result of the process.

Do you have any thoughts on recent developments in the industrial wastewater sector? If so, contact us at iwwdeditor[email protected].

About the author

Brett Quillen is associate editor for WWD. Quillen can be reached at [email protected]

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