Monday, May 11, 2009

Moving toward a better pollutant discharge limitation: Revisiting that Exemption in HB 2053.

HB2053 wants to exempt certain cities in Washington State from pollutant discharge limitation into the municipal storm drainage system because of the unique nature of the soil and topography of the cities. According to its proponents, certain Washington cities should not be required to be covered under the national pollutant discharge elimination program, with respect to the storm sewer systems permit program. The dark side of this argument is that legislatures proposing the argument, often wants to add exemption to solution of a problem that potentially can protect these cities from unintended consequence of pollutant discharge into the environment. Every city has either a topography or soil problem that can circumstantially allow them to be exempted from this national standard. Unless a city is sitting on a perfectly flat terrain, where the composition of the soil and topography is perfect, the pollutant discharge limitation paradigm will always apply. Even at that, no one area in this country could effectively argue that it must be given a prerogative to opt out of a very useful and meaningful standard of maintaining lower levels of pollution emission to the environment.

There is at least a common denominator for all the cities in Washington State as well as the nation as a whole, a lot of people reside in them who would rather not suffer from pollutant discharges’ effects that will eventually hamper their health and destroy their environment. When exemption as this is allowed, it becomes rather difficult to police those cities that are under conformance. A good percentage of the conforming cities may seek exemption under other criteria that may not be considered at this time and would eventually justify their exemption through a lobby effort to include themselves among cities that are being exempted from conforming to the national pollutant discharge limitation. No city is a villain here and there are a lot of good reasons why a city would want to be exempted from the pollutant discharge limitation. I will want to challenge the proponents of HB 2053 and similar bills that may be in the pipe line, to take a fresh look at the problem of pollutant emission and the consequences of storm water runoff pollution problem that the state is contending with in the Puget Sound area of the State. We cannot afford to have the magnitude of this problem in other cities of the state because of a granted exemption under this bill. If we change a few assumptions about the soil and topography of many potentially excludable cities, we could make a dramatic progress in our effort to protect and preserve our environment.
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