From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
John Klomp, a former Pueblo County commissioner who now sits on the state Water Quality Control Commission, said there aren’t enough people working in the division to police every waterway. At the same time, there needs to be emphasis on Fountain Creek and Klomp is working to assure the manpower is available to evaluate information provided to the state. “Fountain Creek is a higher priority. It needs to be monitored and monitored regularly,” Klomp said.
The Water Quality Control Division listed the primary “workload drivers” that will lead to the shortage of manpower in the memo:
– Population growth, that increases demand for a static or declining water supply and increases the number of permits needed. The state has nearly doubled the number of stormwater permits since 2004, for example.
– New and revised rules and regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency will mean more complex permit enforcement.
– The number of samples requiring evaluation jumped from about 640,000 in 2002 to more than 1 million last year. Court rulings require more things be monitored. For example, a 2009 ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an EPA rule exempting pesticide applications from discharge permits. That action alone will increase the number of discharge permits by 2,000, or 20 percent of the state total.
– Aging and failing water and wastewater infrastructure will increase demand for funds, as well as state oversight.
The impacts of trying to keep up with the required work would mean the division has to prioritize inspections, focusing primarily on emergencies. That would reduce protection, the memo states. The division responds to 40 to 60 emergency situations annually.
Right now, the state annually inspects less than 3 percent of 5,500 activities covered under stormwater permits, and less than half of the state’s 2,000 wastewater discharge facilities. About 200 wastewater facilities are discharging domestic waste to groundwater without a permit, endangering the quality of groundwater.