A policy question for further thought

Many, if not most, of the nation's sewage treatment plants were built as a result of the Water Pollution Control Act of 1972. The legislation authorized funds for states to build or upgrade wastewater treatment plants with secondary treatment. The law has been a great boon to improving water quality nationwide; however, the bill stopped short of authorizing funds for any type of tertiary treatment.

States with significant fishing economies felt the act should include a provision for funding of denitrification. Although many plants have been upgraded, the funds have by and large come from the states and municipalities, not the federal government (the major estuaries have received some help in this respect from the National Estuary Program). Regions that are sole source aquifers also felt that there watersheds should be protected by federal funding of tertiary treatment. Long Island is not only a sole source aquifer, but also contains several estuaries. So as you can imagine Long Island policy makers feel quite passionately about the issue. What do you think?

Try writing a revision to the law that would allow some regions to receive funding for denitrification. What sort of criteria would you use to screen out municipalities that simply wanted porkbarrel, not ecological progress? Would you favor one technology over another in the implementation of this law?

Denitrification Home Page

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