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E-M:/ Discharge Permit Backlog Eliminated

Enviro-Mich message from "Fred Cowles" <COWLESF@state.mi.us>

October 18, 2000
Contact: Ken Silfven (517) 241-7397

The Department of Environmental Quality has completed a five-year program to eliminate its backlog of expired wastewater permits, ensuring that up-to-date environmental protection provisions are in place for all discharges to Michigan's surface waters.

The DEQ program for eliminating the backlog of permits, formally known as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, began in 1995. At that time, 975 of the state's NPDES permits were expired, some for more than 20 years.

This meant that about 60 percent of Michigan's wastewater dischargers did not have up-to-date controls in place. Since then, these permits have been systematically reissued in each watershed under the DEQ plan. NPDES permits are issued to industrial and municipal dischargers.

"Keeping these permits current should be among the state's most fundamental tasks," said DEQ Director Russell Harding. "But prior to the DEQ's creation in 1995, years of neglect had prevented our surface waters from getting the necessary protections provided by updated discharge permits. That was unacceptable to Governor John Engler, who provided the leadership necessary to get this problem squared away.

"Many states are now grappling with the same problem that Michigan faced five years ago. Fortunately for Michigan, our emphasis on efficient government and strong environmental protection is paying off. I am proud of the men and women in DEQ's Surface Water Quality Division who have worked so diligently to get this situation under control."

As of Sept. 30, only about 3 percent remained expired and most of those are under enforcement action, which temporarily prevents reissuance.

Now that the backlog has been resolved, regular permit reissuance according to the DEQ watershed plan is expected to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Revised October 18, 2000 by Deb Miller
DEQ news releases are available on the department's Internet home page at http://www.deq.state.mi.us 

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