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Friday, December 1st, 2006

Celina will likely miss EPA water deadline

By Timothy Cox
Celina city officials are admitting for the first time that they are unlikely to meet the EPA-imposed deadline for fixing the city's drinking water.
Water Superintendent Mike Sudman made the revelation during a budget meeting with members of Celina City Council on Thursday. The issue came up when council members asked Sudman about a budget line item for legal fees in his department's proposed 2007 spending plan.
"To be realistic, we're probably not going to make that deadline," Sudman told council members.
Based on the EPA's original findings and orders to the city to remove high levels of trihalomethanes from its water, the city could face daily fines of $25,000 for missing the mandated deadline. The EPA's orders were handed down about five years ago.
Even though city officials have decided on a course of action, it likely will be early 2008 before the new treatment process is brought fully online, Sudman said. The EPA's deadline for compliance is Nov. 7, 2007.
"We're probably going to have to send somebody down there and do some negotiating to buy us a couple of months," Sudman said.
City officials were meeting to discuss the proposed 2007 budget and did not discuss the potential ramifications of missing the state's deadline.
The city plans to build a granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment facility on the site of the Blue Goose, the city's former power plant. Testing has indicated the GAC system added to the city's existing treatment process will curb the high levels of tTHMs in the water.
THMs form as a byproduct of the the high organic content of the water drawn from Grand Lake and the chlorine the city adds to the water as a disinfectant. THMs have been linked to several forms of cancer and other diseases in laboratory testing.
Designs are now being drawn up for the GAC facility and those plans still will need EPA approval. There also will be testing required before the new facility is brought online.
"Who knows what road blocks we're going to run into," Sudman said.
Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel, who has steadfastly maintained the city will meet next year's deadline, for the first time Thursday conceded that the city might not make it.
"We'll be very close," Hazel said.
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