WARREN - Employers along the Mahoning River could face the cost of building water pretreatment plants under a tougher state limit on how much pollution can be discharged into the river, according to a Warren official who Monday questioned the new standard.
"I'm not opposed to a limit being set. I'm opposed to limits that aren't science-based," said Tom Angelo, director of Warren's Water Pollution Control Department, which is sponsoring an informational lunch meeting at noon today at Enzo's Restaurant so private and public sector officials can learn about the new standard.
More than 50 officials from some of the area's largest employers, including the automaking General Motors Co. Lordstown Complex, steelmaker RG Steel and auto parts supplier Delphi Electrical / Electronic Architecture, as well as communities along the river, are scheduled to attend, Angelo said.
The regulation will set a limit of 622 milligrams of dissolved solids per 1,000 liters of water discharged from Warren's wastewater treatment plant into the Mahoning River.
The plant, which has no limit now, will need to stay below that level in order to get its permit renewed when it expires Jan. 31. The permit must be renewed every five years.
Angelo suggested the state limit doesn't reflect Warren's normal discharge levels because they're based on samples taken in April 2010 and October 2010, months when major area manufacturers were operating at reduced levels as they recovered from a deep recession.
"It's not a true operational sample," he said.
The plant averaged 743 milligrams per 1,000 liters in 2010, and about 839 milligrams per 1,000 liters in the year it has been accepting brine water from Patriot Water Treatment in Warren, Angelo said.
Patriot pretreats wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in natural gas shale drilling before sending it to Warren.
Modified language allowing Patriot to operate has been removed in Warren's renewal permit, Angelo said.
Total dissolved solids include salt runoff from roads, sulfide from construction debris and material in factory waste, among other items.
Not renewing Warren's permit will force factories and other solid waste producers to pretreat their wastewater before sending it to Warren.
"They're very expensive to remove," Angelo said of dissolved solid waste. "Before we impose the extra cost, let's do a study."