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Environment Local News

EPA Outlines Process in Calculating Pollution Limits for Floyds Fork

Stakeholders including residents and wastewater treatment plant operators gathered in Middletown last night for a meeting with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency. This was the first step in determining new pollution limits for the Floyds Fork watershed.

The state says Floyds Fork is impaired, which means the waterway can’t fulfill its designated functions. The state Division of Water has asked the EPA to help determine the maximum amount of pollution that can be discharged into the watershed without exceeding the state water quality standard.

At the meeting tonight, EPA officials explained the process they’ll use to calculate the pollution limits. Jory Becker of the Division of Water says once the EPA determines that number, it’ll be up to the state to divvy out the pollution limits between treatment plants and smaller polluters.

“You got the waste load allocation for the point sources—those are the permit holders. And then there’s the other part for the storm water runoff and the other things like agriculture and non-point sources and there’ll be a chunk for that,” Becker said. “And we’ll have to decide how the reductions go from there.”

The Metropolitan Sewer District is a major stakeholder in the process. Spokesman Brian Bingham says if MSD is eventually told it won’t be allowed to discharge as much wastewater, it’ll cost customers.

“What it essentially will mean is we’ll have to change the processes at our treatment plants, or potentially build what’s essentially a water treatment plant on the back of the wastewater treatment plant,” he said. “So there are technologies out there, they just add significant costs to the community.”

The EPA’s role in the process is expected to be completed by November next year. Another meeting is planned for this November to update stakeholders on the process.

The agency is looking for information about the watershed from residents—to submit information, email FloydsFork@epa.gov

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Environment Local News Politics

MSD Approves Month-to-Month Contract for Counsel Larry Zielke

The Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District today approved an agreement that would renew their legal counsel’s contract on a month-by-month basis. The action comes as the state auditor is questioning the agency’s practice of awarding no-bid contracts for professional services.

The state audit is expected by the end of the year. Until then, the MSD board voted to renew counsel Larry Zielke’s contract on a month-by-month basis, rather than the yearly contract which was previously standard.

MSD Board Chairman Arnold Celentano says while most of MSD’s contracts are up for bids, professional services are handled differently.

“You don’t go out for proposals, you look at the background and the capabilities of the professional firm,” he said.

Zielke’s contract in particular has come under fire amid allegations of conflict-of-interest and artificially high rates. Celetano says he thinks the audit might suggest the agency bid out for legal and other professional services as well, but:

“If it doesn’t save us money I don’t think we’ll do it,” he said.

Zielke’s month-by-month contract was approved, despite board member Tom Austin’s suggestion that the MSD accept requests for proposals—or RFP’s—sooner, rather than later.

“I think if we’re going to be transparent to the community that professional services contracts, we ought to ask for an RFP,” he said. “For those, like other contracts that we bid.”

The state audit won’t have the force of law. Instead, it will make recommendations and the MSD will have sixty days to give a written response .

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Local News Politics

MSD Selects New Chair, Vice Chair; Adopts New Ethics Policy

The board of directors for the Metropolitan Sewer District selected a new chairman Monday and adopted a new ethics policy.

This action comes after Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who appoints board members, called for a shake up.

On Friday, former Chairman Audwin Helton stepped down in the wake of reports that his company had benefited financially from MSD contracts that were not competitively bid.

The board met today and selected Arnold Celentano as the new chairman and Doyle Stacy as the new vice-chair.

“Mr. Cellentano is a retired engeneer” says executive director Bud Schardein, “he has had experience on another sewer board, in New York State and he has been on the board for several years, he represents the Old Louisville Area and has always been a very active board member.”

The board also unanimously voted to enact a new ethics policy without any debate or discussion.

“The new policy was approved,” says Schardein, “to simply state that no board member or immediate family member of a board member can do business or hold a contract with MSD while they sit on the board.”

Fischer has also asked that two other board members whose companies benefited from no-bid contract to step down.

Last week, board member Marty Hoehler announced he would resign, but board member Beverly Wheatly, who was reportedly missing from today’s meeting, was not available for comment on her status.

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Local News

Metro Council Flood Panel Holds Final Meeting

The Louisville Metro Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Flash Flood of 2009 held its final meeting Monday.

The panel was formed to hear input from residents, Metropolitan Sewer District officials and others about the cause of the August 4 disaster, the city’s response to it, and possible flood-prevention steps.

Co-chair Judy Green says the panel has come up with a partial list of recommendations based on the information.

Among them:

“We would like to implement and endorse the plan MSD has been advocating of buyouts of properties in Metro Louisville in areas that are prone to flooding and sewage backflow problems,” Green said.

The buyouts would be voluntary and contingent on the availability of federal funds.

The panel is also recommending the creation of more greenspace, especially in flood prone areas of south and west Louisville, and more frequent clearing of drainage ditches.

Any future flood-related issues will be addressed by the council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee.