PINEDALE – After getting a violation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last fall for doing so without proper authority, the town of Pinedale is now in the process of seeking federal and state approval to change its corrosion control treatment (CCT).
By June, the town had submitted its plans to both the EPA and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). In essence, the town wants to move its water treatment from a combination of soda ash and sodium silicate to strictly soda ash.
“When these (water treatment) systems are going to change or modify their treatment, they’ve got to go through both of us (EPA and DEQ),” said Rich Cripe, the program manager for DEQ’s Water and Wastewater division.
According to Cripe, Pinedale has “gotten EPA approval on that treatment” but the DEQ still has some questions.
At its July 24 meeting, town engineer Hayley Ruland gave an update on the effort, saying that the DEQ returned about “30 comments” on the town’s initial permit-approval submission.
The Pinedale Town Council then voted to approve an additional $3,000 for Colorado-based JVA Consulting Engineering – the same company that helped submit the initial permit request – to help the town complete the process.
“The DEQ wants those responses (to its questions) to come back from the engineer of record,” Ruland said. “So we have been working on those responses ourselves, but we have to work with (JVA) to get the permit.”
According to Cripe, the town was “missing some elements in their design and they are addressing those comments, questions and concerns that may not have been addressed in the application.”
Cripe said many of the comments from the DEQ revolved around the town’s ability to manage the pH levels of the water supply, given the ongoing variations that can arise at Fremont Lake.
“The water chemistry can change, depending on how nature is,” Cripe said. “It’s an ongoing process to keep those things in balance.
“That’s what a lot of our questions and concerns were – dialing that in and having them provide a range and items in their application that helps them operate and manage that appropriately – like the dosage rates, the ranges, and those types of comments.
“So when they give us that type of information, not only is that going to convince us they’re meeting our regulations, but it also helps the operators that have to keep that system running.”
According to Cripe, the town’s effort to switch strictly to soda ash for its CCT was already in the works before last year’s EPA violation.
“They made some bad decisions. … They jumped the gun,” he said. “For them to just quit doing something and turn something on, that’s a bad decision because you can’t just do that stuff. … You have the potential of changing something and having adverse effects, which were the outcomes here.”
For Cripe, however, Pinedale – despite the mayor’s past decision to change the town’s CCT without approval – is now heading in the right direction and with the right process, particularly in light of the regulatory agencies now looking of its shoulder with increased scrutiny.
“(The mayor) really started a bad discussion but he doesn’t get to finish the discussion,” Cripe said. “Now the wheels are rolling in the right direction to make that process correct. … He started off with some bad decisions but it’s in the hands of the professionals for some time and that’s why you’re getting the results you’re getting.
“In my professional opinion, yes, they are going in the right direction, and yes, you do have safe water right now. You will have safer water with it dialed in with the appropriate (soda ash) dosage rates.”
For its part, the town of Pinedale had little comment on this story.
“The change is still being reviewed,” wrote mayor Bob Jones. “We will not be commenting on any review questions as they may or may not become relevant. As soon as the review is completed and approved, it will be presented to the council and public before it is implemented.”