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EPA Furloughs Not Boding Well For Chicago's Water Concerns

By JoshMogerman in News on Oct 5, 2013 8:45PM

Working Chicago River [Jim Watkins]

As the federal government shutdown drags on, we continue to see little hints here and there that the denizens of the Beltway have no idea what is going on outside DC’s bubble.

There’s the victim-blaming. And odd little celebratory messages like this one called out by The Guardian for kicking tens of thousands of EPA employees on furlough:

And while its true the EPA won’t be putting out more regulations, there are plenty of other things they won’t be doing…like monitoring superfund sites, cleaning up arsenic-tainted Wisconsin rivers…or keeping an eye on what gets dumped into our rivers and water supplies.

This quote sorta sums it up:

"It stinks," said John O'Grady, a union representative at the EPA's Chicago office. "No one is going to be out inspecting water discharges, or wet lands. Nobody is going to be out inspecting waste water treatment plants, drinking water treatment plants, or landfills - nothing. None of that is going to be done. The employees are absolutely devastated."
Sure, but some of that stuff will get done locally…right? Uhh...right?

Again, from The Guardian:

But EPA officials said there would be growing risk to public health if the shutdown lasted beyond a few days.

"It's like most of the other agencies. In the short term, the impact may not be terribly big, but over the long term, there is a cost to the work not getting done," said Jonathan Schweitzer, an environmental engineer at the agency and a veteran of the 1990s shutdown.

During the last shutdown, his team was forced to call off a planned inspection at a sewage treatment plant in the Chicago area. "During that time the treatment plant violated its discharge limits," he said. "In the long term if we can't review permits and pre-treatment programmes, then states and municipalities will likely tend to slack off if nobody is keeping after them as far as their job is concerned protecting the waterways."

Oh, right. Our regional water regulators just put an end to their fight to continue dumping poo germs in the Chicago River… Leave it to the Brits to bring the clarity to local impacts of American political problems. Too bad nobody seems to be reading the foreign press in D.C.