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Clean water hearings underway in new Congress.

Wastewater treatment programs in financially-strapped small communities require special help from state and federal agencies to comply with environmental regulations and to implement alternative treatment technologies, according to testimony from a Water Environment Federation (WEF) member before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee recently.

"Small communities have significant wastewater problems. Progress has to be made toward solving these problems," said North Carolina State University A. Robert Rubin, who represented WEF at a hearing before the House Public Works and Transportation Committee's Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. "(Small communities) have been largely neglected by regulatory agencies and funding programs of the past, yet they are the poorest in resources," he added. The testimony was given at the first Clean Water Act hearing of the 103rd Congress.

Thousands of small communities in the United States need improved wastewater treatment facilities. These communities, however, lack the tax base needed to upgrade their facilities, Rubin said. "Both state and federal regulatory agencies need to take extra effort to help small communities address their wastewater treatment and residuals management needs," he said.

In addition, Rubin pointed out that there are many treatment technologies available to small communities other than large secondary treatment plants which can provide an equivalent level of treatment at less cost. These alternative technologies include pressure and vacuum sewers, natural systems such as constructed wetlands, land application and sand filters, as well as basic water conservation techniques. "We need to overcome problems with financing, inflexible governmental regulation, and public perception that these alternative technologies are second rate," he said.

Rubin called for government and private sector parties to work cooperatively with local community leaders to develop cost-effective and environmentally sound wastewater management systems suited to the local community's needs. He also called for more technical and financial assistance from the federal government and states, coordination among agencies, and leadership from the federal government in facilitating research on technologies.
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Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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