State Not Meeting EPA Standards Regulating Water Pollution

8/3/11 – Wisconsin is not meeting dozens of federal requirements in the way it manages water pollution. The E-P-A has told the state that it found 75 omissions and deviations from federal laws in Wisconsin’s water permit system. And it wants the state to make dozens of changes – or prove why its laws comply with the national standards. State D-N-R attorney Robin Nyffeler says the notice should be kept in perspective. Nyffeler says Wisconsin has run its own water program for almost 40 years under the federal Clean Water Act – and in that time, there were bound to be some discrepancies. Among other things, the state requires at least five people to ask for a public hearing on a water pollution permit – but the federal government says only one person needs to make a request. The E-P-A also says Wisconsin’s legal authority to enforce water rules might have been weakened last year by a State Supreme Court ruling involving a dispute over a water permit given to Georgia-Pacific’s paper plant in Green Bay. Also, the E-P-A questioned some laws passed this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature and Governor Scott Walker. One requires the state to impose pollution limits or standards only if a specific law allows it. The E-P-A says the state Justice Department has some explaining to do on that one. Attorney Dennis Grzezinski of the Midwest Environmental Advocates in Green Bay says the E-P-A’s long list of concerns is quote, “amazingly alarming.” But Nyffler said state-and-federal officials have been talking about this since 2009 – and even more concerns have already been addressed.