West Virginia's No. 1 Chesapeake Bay cleanup project stalled over a common ... - Washington Post

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Now they are wondering: How will states, cities and towns pay for what has been called the most ambitious U.S. water pollution control project ever undertaken?

Even the Environmental Protection Agency, which is directing the cleanup, acknowledges that funding will be a challenge.

The Hardy County plant stands above all other projects in the Eastern Panhandle, which are within the bay's headwaters. It would address inadequate public wastewater plants and also the huge Pilgrim's Pride Corp. operation that processes 2 million chickens each week.

"It is the single most important project in West Virginia, by far, of any of the projects or upgrades required under the bay plan," said Mike Warwick of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Communities in the panhandle must modernize 13 wastewater treatment plants along waterways that drain into the bay. The EPA has called on these communities to reduce the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus they release.

Warwick, an engineer with the state's clean water revolving fund, said the upgrades in the panhandle total an estimated $200 million.

The overall cost in Virginia alone to comply with the stringent bay pollution standards is in the range of $8 billion to $10 billion. The total cost for states within the 64,000-square-mile watershed has been estimated at $30 billion through 2025.

The costs have mounted as the environmentally battered bay has grown more polluted because states for decades failed to deal with farm and urban runoff, sewage-laden storm overflows and other pollution that flows from the watershed's six states and Washington, D.C. Some 17 million people live in the watershed.

Pollution and disease have decimated the bay's once-abundant oyster stocks and created "dead zones."

With President Barack Obama's backing, the EPA is now directing the cleanup effort and has established a "pollution diet" for the bay states and the district.

Hardy County was moving toward that goal when a key funding piece fell through.

It was a nearly $3 million federal grant secured in 2008 by the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd. The funding loss was a victim of federal budget cuts.

For Phyllis Cole, the uncertainty hanging over the Hardy County treatment plant is especially tough after shepherding the project along since 2001 and securing most of its funding.

"When we spoke to EPA, they stated in lieu of laying off employees the agency had instead chosen to rescind projects until the issues are resolved," said Cole, a former state legislator.

24 Sep, 2011

Source: http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&usg=AFQjCNEtAPhr-n4PMfGWGqhU_oHJk0Ypvg&url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/west-virginias-no-1-chesapeake-bay-cleanup-project-stalled-over-a-common-lament-funding/2011/09/24/gIQAw3OVtK_story.html
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