EPA praises Clayton water authority

By Justin Boron

A member of the Environmental Protection Agency toured a water treatment facility in Hampton Thursday as gesture of praise for county's efforts to protect its water.

The occasion also was a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

At the J.W. Smith Community Use building, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Ben Grumbles praised the Clayton County Water Authority for its technological advances in the area of water treatment.

One of the few water utilities in the nation to be using ultraviolet rays to help disinfect water, Grumbles said the authority is an example of the type of progress the Safe Drinking Water Act has made since 1974.

Many other water authority's are still using less effective methods like chlorine, he said.

The use of the innovative technology exceeds regulatory requirements.

"(Clayton County) is going above and beyond what is required," he said. "EPA went through a rigorous process to determine which water utility to celebrate the announcement of the 30th anniversary."

CCWA was chosen among the 53,000 water systems in the U.S.

The Safe Drinking Water Act has become more stringent in recent years, forcing local jurisdictions to adapt to new guidelines, sometimes at the cost of the citizens, Grumbles said.

"The act has become more sophisticated," he said.

One of the burdens that will likely be shared between the county's municipalities and the county government will be a stormwater management fee.

Stormwater management comes out of a different piece of legislation than the Safe Drinking Water Act, but still has some impact on drinking water, Grumbles said.

"(Stormwater management) is a practical way to help protect ecosystem," he said.

Both Clayton and Henry County are grappling with the issue, which comes in the form of an unfunded mandate.

"Clayton County, like other communities in the country, had not been faced with Clean Water Act requirements," Grumbles said.

But the EPA is trying to be flexible with smaller jurisdictions in the process of implementing stormwater management program, he said.

"EPA has been working hard to ensure the stormwater program for smaller cities and towns have flexibility , technical assistance, and some funding," he said.