Thursday, September 3, 2009

Feds Tack on Regs/Water Swirls

The Chamber is serving the business community as a stakeholder on Tacoma Water's stakeholder group for the Water Treatment Decision. That issue was first presented to the stakeholders at their meeting Aug. 6.

Already, the community has been exposed to the issue through The News Tribune's feature article and their recent announcement of various community meetings.

Briefly, the issue is that the feds have added a federal regulation for public health about a "bug" commonly called "crypto." There are two options, as explained in the above links. One, UV treatment is - shall we say - less expensive that the other option, filtration. The UV option is estimated to cause water rate increases of 5-10% for several years. The filtration option is estimated to cause water rate increases of 15-20% for several years.

Complicating the choices are that another set of federal standards address issues like coliform contamination, turbidity, etc. If any one of these set of 12 standards is violated, the water utility will have to invest in the filtration treatment option.

The Chamber has asked Tacoma Water to determine if the costs of assuring the management of the set of 12 standards, with an acceptable level of risk, will be cheaper when combined with UV treatment to avoid the more expensive filtration option.

That cost information and risk assessment is due from Tacoma Water's consultant near the end of October. That information should help in adding some facts, instead of just cost estimates and professional treatment preferences, to the public policy decision on what's best for Tacoma's water customers.

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