December 2007, Vol. 19, No.12
our article about the Clean Water Act [“The Clean Water Act: An Effective Means To Achieve a Limited End,” October] was a good synopsis of the gains this country has made since the 1970s. However, I take exception to the statement made that “Due to the lack of comprehensive, national-level data, potentially serious pollution problems remain undetected.” I agree that potentially serious pollution problems may remain undetected, but my experience has been that even without a more comprehensive monitoring system, incidents of pollution of the surface waters of the United States by “midnight dumpers” or similar deliberate acts are generally spotted by citizens who quickly alert the appropriate authorities.
Christopher M. Timm, P.E.
Vice President/Senior Program Manager
PECOS Management Services Inc.
Author G. Tracy Mehan responds: Thanks for the feedback. I would agree that midnight dumping and traditional, point source discharges are monitored and enforced pretty well. But the big changes from nonpoint source pollution and stormwater runoff (air deposition, too) would argue for more monitoring to pinpoint the systemic problems.
[In response to the editor’s note in the October issue] I have seen several movies that have used the pipe galleries of wastewater plant as part of their movie set. The untrained eye would not notice, but you can often see pipe labels that say waste activated sludge and such.
One of my favorites, though, is an episode of “The X Files” where a mutant half-man, part-fluke (or something like that), lives in the wastewater plant. They show him swimming in a primary clarifier. [Dan Ferguson, operations supervisor for the Vallejo (Calif.) Sanitation & Flood Control District, wrote in with the name of the X Files episode: “The Host.” He said it was the second episode in season two.] How cool is that!
Mishawaka (Ind.) Utilities
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