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Public Comment Welcome At Thursday Meeting Of ORSANCO Directors

Bill Rinehart

The directors of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission are meeting in Covington this week to plan for the future. The board has been considering a change to water quality standards for more than a year, and could make a decision at Thursday's meeting.

Executive Director Richard Harrison says the proposed change is about program efficiency. "We're not just talking about ORSANCO dollars and cents, we're talking about the effectiveness of the state programs since it's the states that implement discharge permitting for the Ohio River," he says.

ORSANCO is funded partially by the member states. Harrison says states contribute nearly $1.5 million of the annual budget. Funding from the EPA matches that. Another $500,000 comes from special grants, stakeholder funding and other sources.

The board on Thursday is expected to approve a budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

Harrison says the budget, as presented, is balanced. After that, there's the potential for deficits. He says those will be headed off by increasing ORSANCO's activities to bring in additional funds. "We do special projects, for instance, working with algal blooms, nutrient management in terms of monitoring. We're getting ready to do a perfluorinated compound sampling project… We're definitely going to be busy, but we've had our partners step up to support our critical functions."

Before the board takes up the budget, they'll hear public comment, which will likely include input on proposed pollution control standards. "I would certainly expect folks will be here. A lot of passion on this. The commission has appreciated the number of comments and input," Harrison says.

The board reviewed the proposal from March 1 to April 15 this year, and received more than 3,700 comments, most of which were opposed to changing the standards. Harrison says it's possible the board may put off a vote.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the Raddison Hotel in Covington.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.