Grand Island's annual Sludge Report was late, and the city's Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan wasn't updated. City officials say that triggered an inspection of the Wastewater Treatment Plant by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.
"In essence the operation of the plant doesn't change, it is merely how we report to EPA; well, the state and federal government, basically. These are two reports that were not done on the right timeline," explained Terry Brown, Grand Island Interim Public Works Director.
Treatment plant engineer Marvin Strong says neither the public nor the environment is in danger, and that the reporting issue is being addressed.
"What we're talking about is administrative responsibilities where reports should have been filed on time; unfortunately they weren't filed on time. We're taking all the necessary steps to make sure we're in full compliance," said Marvin Strong, Grand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant engineer.
City officials say they're trying to determine just how the required reports could have been overlooked.
"We've had a lot of new staff placed at the treatment plant, and it's a matter of -- we're in the matter of discovery right now, of finding out what the procedures were in the past, and how they will be in the future," Terry Brown said.
The issue of regulatory non-compliance is one that staff members at Grand Island's Wastewater Treatment Plant say they take very seriously. And they reassure us that they're performing tests, and filing reports daily to remain in compliance. Labwork, paperwork, and deadlines are all part of the required state and federal regulatory guidelines.
"Anytime that we don't meet those guidelines, I make sure to report that to my superiors," avowed Joseph Shanle, a Grand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant lab technician.
No fines have been imposed on the city for the non-compliance violations. However, Grand Island city officials say the possiblity of administrative fines still exists, and if imposed, city officials say the fines will be disclosed to citizens.