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Youngstown Sewage Water Policy

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Youngstown Sewage Water Policy

  1. 1. Running head: YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 1 An In-Depth Investigation into Youngstown, Ohio’s Sewage Treatment Concerns: Environmental Complications Due to Failed Sewage Treatment Facilities, The Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 and Implications for Future Action Toward the Re- Introduction of the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2016 Taylor Hartman Case Western Reserve University, The Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences
  2. 2. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 2 Introduction Background of The Roots of the Current Problem I want to personalize and break down the overarching issues that are brought forth from this policy examination. I also wish to explain some history regarding the nature of this complex issue. This is a multifaceted matter related not only to the local city of Youngstown, Ohio, but eventually, if not addressed soon, neighboring counties and towns as well. There are other numerous cities that endure the same fate Youngstown was dealt with and this is considered a national issue as well. For almost two decades, Youngstown has had issues regarding violations to environmental protections, management of the treatment of sewage runoff and recycling water, as well as failing to provide alternatives than the spillover from rain and sewage that filtered straight into Mill Creek Metro Park lakes. Investigation into this previous policy as well as issues in adhering to standards and regulations will be discussed. In 1891, Volney Rogers, a Youngstown resident and lawyer, founded and created what is now Mill Creek Park, as well as it’s outlying neighborhoods, lakes, and scenery, which was all originally created from leftover glaciers and rough environmental changes in the Mahoning Valley of Youngstown, Ohio. The original water treatment and sewage systems of Youngstown were built in 1919; these were not part of Volney Rogers’ ideas (Grzelewski, 2015). Instead, the city utilized a “quick fix” to a complicated and problematic sewage issue. A massive sewage pipe and system was implemented right through the natural land, forests, and lakes of Mill Creek Metro Parks, in hopes of having better access to the facility and path of the system, as well as economic stability for companies invested in the program. The main construction of the system was to allow rainwater, sewage, and other natural entities and fluids to overflow into the natural resources and environments of Mill Creek Metro Park.
  3. 3. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 3 Volney Rogers did not envision this, since he was dedicated to making Youngstown’s scenery beautiful and enjoyable for patrons of the city. Over the years and due to maltreatment and improper care and regulation of the facilities, Volney Rogers warmed the city and it’s leaders about the improper techniques they incorporated. He said that swimming in the natural lakes, utilizing the parks routes and paths, and enjoying the fresh water quality for fishing and boating would cease to exist. Furthermore, Volney Rogers attested to the fact these spaces would not be useable in the future if the practices and mindsets of the leaders in his time were to perpetuate over the years. Societal Problem Identification Current Problem and Causes In June 2015, there was an emergency closing of the local and historic lakes in Youngstown, Ohio –Lake Newport, Lake Cohasset, and Lake Glacier –, due to sewage and watershed discharge from the prolonged and overwhelming amounts of rainfall from this past summer. These resulted from accumulation of storm water that was unable to filter properly through the drain and water filtration systems of Youngstown, Ohio. Additionally, the surrounding neighborhoods of the lakes began to smell, which was the cause for concern, bringing rise to recent investigations this past summer. Upon lengthy examination and testing by city councilmen and councilwomen, several field surveying scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began analyses of the disaster. The tests yielded high amounts of Escherichia coli, or E. coli. Combined sewer overflows, (or CSO’s), resulting from heavy late June rains, were the primary cause of a massive fish kill in Lake Newport, the Ohio EPA said (Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, 2015). The Mill Creek Metro Parks indefinitely closed lakes Newport, Cohasset, and Glacier to all recreational use on July 10th, 2015, after the
  4. 4. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 4 Mahoning County Board of Health measured high E. coli sewage bacteria counts in Lake Newport. On top of this, the Ohio Department of Health has been expected to conduct weekly inspections of E. coli from August, 2015 until the end of October, 2015 (Grzelewski, 2015). As of July 2015, the Mill Creek Metro Parks were still closed due to the inability to fish, boat, swim, and otherwise walk though the area, due to high levels of E. coli and other contaminants from the overflow of sewage and rainwater. Upon more investigation, over 100,000 gallons of raw sewage and drainage made its way into the nearby lakes and parks resulting in a massive death toll of local fish, geese, and other aquatic microorganisms. Furthermore, many fish were reported decomposing and floating on top of the water, which was found to be due to the “high amounts of chemical spillage, sewage spillover, and accumulation of acid rainwater”, EPA officials concluded (Milliken & Skolnick, 2015). What makes this a very personal issue is my current family home is located in the same ward, area code, and vicinity of one of the major lakes in Youngstown, being Lake Newport. My home, which is located on Cascade Drive, is part of an historic district located within the Mill Creek Park Metro Parks of Youngstown. Because I live so close to some of the disaster areas, it is an issue about identity, revitalization, and stability for my neighborhood. I am within walking distance of the lake and the parks nearby, which recently has been looked at with disinterest and disgust from its locals and visitors. I can attest to and support the evidence of the aforementioned research; I hope to shed some light as well as discuss the current modes of action needed to help alleviate the current issue pressing the citizens of Youngstown. The amount of people affected by this problem is actually quite extensive. Not just myself and my neighborhood, but surrounding neighborhoods and towns that are part of the Youngstown greater area are affected. The fact of the matter is that the lakes are all shared
  5. 5. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 5 between land and someone can easily navigate from one section of the city to another using the vast and extensive parkways and roads developed by Volney Rogers and the city of Youngstown. Because of this, the majority of residents who live in Youngstown are quite familiar with and understand the dynamics of the problem as well as live in the vicinity, or at least know someone who was directly affected by the incident. When it hit local news stations this year, it was the highlight of all news reports and was recounted continuously with updates for almost an entire week. The reason it affects so many people is due to the fact many people fish, boat, swim, walk through, and visit Youngstown, especially the lakes, nature gardens, pathways, and trails surrounding the lakes. Because the water became muddied with sewage backup and drainage from pipes and tanks, the smell and utilization of the lake caused an emergency shut down in early July, after E. coli was found throughout all of the lakes and nearby tributaries. Mill Creek Metro Parks and Early Water Pollutants: An Investigatory Analysis Beginning in 1999, a study was conducted by the United States Department of the Interior and the United States Geological Survey in order to evaluate and assess the water quality in the Mahoning River. The team looked at levels of chemicals in the water as well as bacteria and sewage levels. According to The Ohio Environmental Protection agency (OEPA), The Mahoning River was “historically…one of the most polluted of any stream or river in Ohio” (Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, 1996). Previous research from the OEPA noted the quality of water in the waste-water-treatment plants (WWTPs) being flushed into the surrounding rivers and lakes in 1980, 1983, 1986 and 1994 were substandard and contributed to low dissolved oxygen concentrations and high ammonium which affected nearby aquatic life; they raised safety concerns for the state of Ohio (Stoeckel & Covert, 2002). According to the
  6. 6. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 6 study conducted by Stoeckel and Covert (2002), the amount of E. coli sampled from streamline flows and overflow discharges exceeded that of the maximum amount allowed in a 30-day geometric mean. According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in 2002, 10 percent of the samples taken during these 30 days periods were not allowed to exceed 126 colony-forming units (CFUs) per 100mL sampled (Stoeckel & Covert, 2002). Ultimately, the samples provided proof that bacterial and fungal cells developed and multiplied in the lakes and watersheds in the Metro Parks. Specifically, in all cases, 35 of the 37 tests and measures completed by the team over the two years were in fact over the limit for controlled amounts of E. coli. The authors further noted the bacteria and other microbials accumulated in higher amounts during rainy seasons when the wet-weather flow samples were greater (Stoeckel and Covert, 2002). This finding indicates there were issues with the ability to control and maintain equilibrium of water levels from sewage systems throughout the city. In the same study, aquatic life was measured by gauging the amount of ammonium concentration as well as pH level and temperature. Overall, most of the tests met State standard in all categories, except for three observations from the Mahoning River in Youngstown, which is the main river that connects all of the sewage disposal and system treatment (Stoeckel and Covert, 2002). Additionally, concentrations of nitrates and phosphorus increased during wet weather seasons and flows at tributaries downstream from the overflow sites. These reports also indicate the inability for aquatic life to thrive, which in turn decreases length of life span as well as a cause for deleted oxygen levels in the water. According to the conclusion and results from their study, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Geological Survey, combined with the primary investigators, Donald Stoeckel and Alex Covert (2002) predicted that if
  7. 7. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 7 improvements were not abided by and implemented as necessary, the bodies of water would need emergency services to help improve water quality. As noted in the aforementioned longitudinal study, it is evident that Youngstown accrued several issues maintaining healthy living and sustainable levels of quality lake water for a while now. It seems as though the current problem and event is directly related to this past research. Issues such as high pH, low dissolved oxygen concentrations, high nitrate concentrations, toxic metals in sediment, and sewer-overflow discharges all have accumulated over time and have directly affected the structure of the lakes over time. It appears that due to maintenance issues and failure to upkeep water treatment facilities in cases of emergency, the current problem was hindered by previous findings from the past. The water found in the various lakes were polluted back then, due to errors in water treatment maintenance. Social Policy Examination Background of Past Youngstown Policy and Government Interventions As stated, Youngstown has been under a watchful eye with regards to previous regulation and policy that it should have adhered to, with relations to the state of the Ohio and national standards of environmental safety. In March of 2002, the State of Ohio, the United States of America, and the City of Youngstown entered into a consent decree in United States and The State of Ohio v. City of Youngstown, No. 4:98CV2438 (N.D. Ohio, 2002), in order to resolve the open and lasting violations concerning the city’s management, functionality, and substandard regulations of the city’s sewer systems and resulting health hazards. Additionally, the city had violated the regulations by discharging pollutants from the wastewater treatment plant in Youngstown into navigable water tributaries. This effect broke terms and conditions in the agreement permit: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System in Section 402, 33 U.S.C §
  8. 8. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 8 1342 of the federal statute as well as violations in the regulated federal statute 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq. (Clean Water Act of 1972). Both of these violations spurred federal officials to setup interventions for the alleviation of the root of the violations, as well as implementations of future projects mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA guidelines, officials originally mandated the city of Youngstown to spend $310,000,000 on updates, reconstruction, cleanup, and upkeep with its wastewater and sewage system maintenance over the next 20 years (Milliken et al., 2015). The point of this was to eliminate the outdated combined sewer overflows throughout Mill Creek Park and the Mahoning Valley River. For the first eight years, the first phase of the proposed solutions –from 2003 to 2011 – would incorporate expansion of water treatment plants and elimination of the combined sewer overflows as well as construction of storage tanks at several overflow locations. Other phases included the implementation of green infrastructure, smaller storage tanks, and other analyses for future phases. However, due to some omissions in agreements and financial struggle, plans for carrying out the later phases were pushed back to 2020 and 2025, and then 2033, because the city could not commit to completing the project (Pierko, 2014). Youngstown attempted to alleviate the buzz from government intervention by lowering the amount of costs through negotiations; they also managed to complete minimal updates from 2003 to 2011 in order to update its systems in the process. The over arching theme associated with this problem is that Youngstown simply could not afford the projects without federal and state interventions. Additionally, due to the nature of Youngstown’s economic structure, the median household income was $24,454 as of 2014, compared to that of the rest of the United States, which was at $48,308 (United States Census Bureau, 2014). Additionally in 2014, 36.4 percent of the population was below the poverty line, which came to 23,422 out of 65,062
  9. 9. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 9 citizens. These statistics put Youngstown at a significant disadvantage when considering the inability of local fundraising; it is extremely difficult to try to alleviate the problem by increasing taxes or using local funds to reduce the cost of governmental interventions when the foundation of the city is recovering from ongoing blight. Due to the constraints on resources, work on these projects was slowed and put on the backburner as the city attempted to let time pass on the issues with minimal improvements on the systems. The Environmental Protection Agency created, mandated, and imposed upon the City of Youngstown a complete list of updated public wastewater treatment plan starting in 1997, after the initial issues regarding it’s substandard water treatment protocol. These plans were entitled the Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plans (Pierko, 2014), which were common in the North East areas of the United States. This was an unfunded mandate that required the city of Youngstown to complete several phases of a complex update and reconstruction of the outdated sewage system and treatment plants. Furthermore, the plans were deemed the Long Term Control Plans (LTCP) to help alleviate the overflows and to end the pollution. Youngstown satisfied their end of the agreement with the EPA in 1997 with their documents entailing their LTCP. As of 2003, Youngstown had fully completed their financial assessment and implementation schedule report, which entails the phases, costs, planning, schedules, problems, solutions, and the blueprints of the affected areas in its entirety (Pierko, 2014). This financial stress would cost the city of Youngstown upwards in $310,000,000, as earlier mentioned, but due to agreements from 2003 to 2011, that figure was lowered to $146,000,000. This new amount was needed in order to raise and complete the project in its entirety, by the year 2033. Current Policy and the Re-Introduction of the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 and 2016
  10. 10. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 10 The federal mandate to have the Youngstown sewage treatment facilities updated and maintained is imminent. According to recent news, the $310,000,000 effort to complete this task has been slowed (Milliken et al., 2015). Currently, the costliness of the effort stands at about $147,000,000 over the past 13 years, since 2002, which has decreased due to negotiation between Youngstown and the EPA. Additionally, the new sanitary sewer system upgrade would need to be completed and implemented by 2033 per the agreement of the United States and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Pierko, 2014). Previously, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH-13) introduced a bill in 2014. This bill was aimed at updating the EPAs Clean Water Affordability policy but was stalled. Senator Brown, who reigns in charge of the total area of Youngstown and Mahoning County, was in charge of the site of major sewage disasters. There are measures to update the current sewage treatment plants as well as implement new full-scale updates and improvements to the outdated systems. Additionally, there seems to be some hope to create functional, practical, environmentally friendly, and durable water treatment facilities. Currently, there is an active bill called the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014, which has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH-13) in September of 2014. Since then, the bill has not taken any further leads but has been reviewed by several subcommittees. Though this ball has died in the past, future endeavors by Sherrod Brown involve re-introducing this bill again with the same name in 2016. This future bill will be discussed later. Goals and Objectives As of September 11, 2014, Senator Sherrod Brown, (D-OH-13), introduced a bill into the 113th Congress for the 2014-2015 year entitled S.2797 (The Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014). The bill was sponsored by Senator Brown and was reviewed in the Senate. On the same
  11. 11. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 11 day after it was introduced, it was read twice and referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. In sum, this bill aimed to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and to support cities and towns as well as regional sewer authorities. It was also created to assist those who experience a tremendous deal of struggle in raising the costs to finance projects and other activity expenses for the updates and construction of wastewater treatment works. Additionally, it would implement grants to states for providing grants to give to local authorities in the use of planning, designing, and constructing treatment works to intercept, transport, and control the sanitary sewer overflows. On top of making sewage systems affordable and effective for economically struggling communities, it also aimed to make beneficial outcomes toward the environment and to create innovative approaches to regulation, financial capabilities, and treatments of sewer treatment plants. The final projects would extend the previous deadline from 2033 to the mid 2040s, giving an extra 10 years to complete the obligations of the law if it passed (The Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014). Provisions and Benefits of Service The types of benefits associated with this bill would incorporate and update preexisting maintenance, operations, and regulatory obligations of the public systems of sewage treatment. Additionally, it will permit and allow standards to treat peak wet weather-related water quality when there are periods of heavy rainfall and excessive accumulation of overflow and runoff from storms, such as the event that caused the current overflow of untreated sewage in the Mill Creek Metro Park lakes and surrounding communities. By doing so, the bill is expected to implement measures to prevent damage to the treatment facility, maximize delivery flow to and from the facility, and to provide cost-effective controls during the peak wet weather periods. The bill also intended to work with the EPA to help educate and outreach the state, tribal, and local
  12. 12. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 12 governments to incorporate green infrastructure as well as in the private sectors of communities in hopes to reduce pollution, protect water resources, and comply with regulatory requirements and health standards. Ultimately, further provisions include benefits of improving technologies and system storage methods, including the monitoring and reporting of systems and providing some alternatives treatments to achieve standard water quality. Eligibility Requirements and Measures of Necessity The criteria and eligibility requirements brought forth by this document states that local economic conditions would be placed at greater emphasis when choosing areas to grant money. Further, formulas would be used to calculate financial capability and thresholds for communities. The bill also referenced specific local conditions that would be measured based on severity of the concerns. In regards to affordability, the bill looks to measure the median household income as a single measure of capability in the context of economic measures in the regions; considerations would be made to look at the big picture of the community, such as potential impact, and requirements over time (The Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014). The schedules of the implementation of the projects must be structured in a way that strays away from potential adverse impacts on the communities, which may result in extra costs if overlooked. Costs of the project may also be revised to include consideration of communities, costs for taxpayers, the effects of service utility costs, and population trends of the use of industry in the time the projects are implemented. Overall, the bill aimed to look at a variety of cause and effect outcomes in order to predict and provide the most beneficial, least intrusive and generally, most effective and structured capabilities for regions requiring these upgrades to water treatment facilities. Financial Obligations
  13. 13. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 13 The Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 states that the federal sector must provide no less than 75 percent of the total cost of the projects. The rest of the funds from non-federal sectors may come from any public, private, in-kind services, and notwithstanding section 603 financial assistance to help the cost. For the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years, the bill states the amounts gained from sources must be allocated to each state and a share based on the needs of the state is calculated. Specifically, $250,000,000 will be authorized for 2015, $300,000,000 for 2016, $350,000,000 for the year 2017 and so on in that fashion, in increments of $50,000,000 per year until 2019, totaling $1,800,000,000. Administration and Planning The obligations enacted by the bill are prioritized as cost effective and allows for the owned permitee to implement innovative approaches to meet the obligations of the preexisting maintenance, operations, and regulations of the Act (The Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014). The administration may also amend the Combined Sewage Overflow Long-Term Control Plan (Pierko, 2014) to allow publically owned treatment work that has been approved to modify the plan and include more green infrastructure and energy efficient technologies. Benefits and the Direct Impact on Vulnerable Populations Obviously, the enormity of the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 would truly emphasize the need for regions that have been severely damaged by ineffective water system treatment structures. The bill would also allow the public sector to be employed in this extensive task for a maximum of 20 to 30 years throughout each specific phase in the process of implementing this program. Some of these jobs may refer to possible openings in administrative and documentation of the planning, as well as executive and corporate financial spending and earning through the federal, state, and local agencies that provide the services. The other portion
  14. 14. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 14 of people who benefit from this policy would be the workers who update, reconstruct, and implement new piping, sewer treatment facilities, and renovations to the numerous sites around the United States. Among the politicians and administrative sectors of those who benefit, most importantly are the constituents, the citizens who live in the distressed areas associated with sewage runoff, and failed infrastructure. The people of the individual towns and municipalities would be the ones who benefit the most in terms of functionality, utilization, and leisure of the direct effects of improved water treatment systems and plants. Furthermore, the project completions may have a direct link to the neighboring counties and cities; they may have residual effects from the positive impact of better water treatment systems through their communities, as well as how it effects the lakes, parks, and forests of nearby populations. Specifically to Youngstown, the patrons who would benefit mostly as well would see a great impact on the effects of their lake and sewage communities; there would be more opportunities for tourism at the historic Metro Parks, as well as fishing, swimming, walking, and touring of the national landmarks. This policy also affects the vulnerable populations mostly in the means of financial obligations. This bill would allow impoverished and blighted communities the chance to renovate areas of their cities and towns that are vital and essential to the foundations of human needs. The sewage systems serve people daily and are important to the structure and health of the environment. Furthermore, this bill would support vulnerable populations who may not be able to muster local funds. As stated earlier, the $1,800,000,000 investment would be reached by making local communities pay a quarter of the cost, while the government pays the rest. This policy would be affecting the impoverished because it would also be requesting money from those who do not have the ability to locate or raise goals and funds to help match the
  15. 15. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 15 government’s amount. Because this bill is intended for the most economically hurt communities, the most vulnerable people would have better access to services they could not get otherwise, which is important, considering water treatment facilities are paramount; it behooves the government to step in and bring aid in the solving of these regional and local state of emergencies. Social Policy Analysis Strengths and Weaknesses The strengths of the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 are quite extensive. The strengths are that is looks at numerous areas across the United States that may need the services. It also measures, quite accurately, the needs based off of income, severity of distress, population size, taxes, projected benefits, and sustainability. Some more strengths would include the amendment to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (The Clean Water Act of 1972), which would update programs to several treatment works and would require the EPA to update guidelines to help communities implement their clean water programs. The bill is two-fold, not only is it requiring the immediate action toward the communities in need of assistance, it also holds responsibility on the system and the government to make strides in advancing their guidelines and regulations to better service communities with health and safety risks. Though the bill has much more benefits than weaknesses, it would not be practical if the bill did not have reasons to deny its acceptance. To clarify, the bill would never be implemented if it did not have any negative side effects attached to it. For example and foremost, the cost of the implementation of the bill would start in increments of $50,000,000 per year over five years starting at $300,000,000, totaling $1,800,000,000 for each region that received funds. Upon reflection, this figure is an outrageously large amount of money to allocate just on water
  16. 16. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 16 treatment facilities. Though the cost is a large amount, it does make sense, considering many systems and treatment plants are outdated, some nearly a century old. The other option provided by the EPA in 2002 to the City of Youngstown, however, demanded a sum of $310,000,000 alone, but was then shortened to $147,000,000 and was allowed to be spread over a span of 20 years, until 2033. Another pitfall of this act may be that it encompasses far too much action in one sitting. The bill looks at changing guidelines and policy in organizations such as the EPA, and also aims to educate, provide community outreach, and of course, build and update outdated water treatment facilities. Furthermore, expecting communities who are truly struggling to live above the poverty line to allocate extra taxes and private goal funding would be unrealistic and a burden on the communities, like Youngstown. Adequacy and Effectiveness The bill as is, may be adequate if the money is readily available from the federal government and if the local communities can match their quarter of the cost. The problem is the funding amounts may be unrealistic for certain communities who do not have the funds or know how to raise funds to help themselves. The bill could use some fine detail and editing to implement phases, much like the original plan implemented by the EPA to Youngstown in 2002 (Pierko, 2014). Additionally, this current proposed bill would authorize $1,800,000,000 over five years for grants to help programs to help the financially distressed communities update outdated infrastructures (Vindicator, 2015). If the bill could be shortened or cut down to only update and implement updated sewage treatment facilities, piping, etc. it may be feasible. It is a beneficial task indeed for impoverished, rural, and even large communities with water treatment emergencies.
  17. 17. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 17 It is possible that the effectiveness of the programs initiated by the EPA and this bill would help alleviate and reduce the health risks, potential risk for system failures, as well as stop pollution in areas. There is a need for this bill to be passed, as noticed by Youngstown’s case for example, with its high levels of pollutants, bacteria, and risk of human health and safety. The policy would need to be effective in its place as well as the cost, in order to quickly improve the lives of communities. Costs and Benefits The overall costs of the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 would require a minimum amount of $1,800,000,000 over five years for each region that is chosen to be given the funds (Mutchler and Hill, 2015). This cost would require each region to come up with 25 percent, or $450,000,000. The overall exchange of the cost may be beneficial for some communities, and for others, a difficult task, depending on the income, amount of taxes, and individual level of need of the communities. The benefits would mean that the most disastrous regions would be allotted new, improved, state of the art systems, facilities, and piping to better manage the wastewater treatment. Furthermore, newer, environmentally friendly, and updated pumps and tanks would allow for better filtration, cleansing, and storage of excess materials in case of emergencies. Some of these emergencies may take in the form of flooding, system overflow, discharge, and accumulation of bacteria and pollutants that can be stopped with these newer mechanisms. At the same side of the token, many other funds and public sectors may be hindered once money becomes siphoned toward this project. Issues and Action Policy Issues in Need of Addressing and Future Action for Improved Policy
  18. 18. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 18 A pertinent policy in need of addressing is the costs and spending on regions affected by these outdated facilities. Another issue may be in the terms of measuring severity and the issue regarding level of need, which can be a subjective perspective that must be addressed with evidence based measures and scales, instead of distress level. Additionally, it would be important for the government to survey, assess, and interview the level of need and how strongly they have become affected with special consideration toward measurable variables like income, taxes, community benefits, geographics, and number of citizens benefiting, etc. Future action can take the form of better assessment and updated examinations of the regions affected by the system facility failures. Youngstown specifically would need studies confirming and documenting the range and severity of the environment and compare samples across data sets to multiple communities in Ohio, as well as compare those results to standard guidelines and those guidelines that would be adopted by the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014. The complex need for better interventions and assessment should be a large priority for the first several years prior to just jumping into fixing the issue. It is imperative to look at the level of severity, level of need, level of negative implications of the system failures, and how many people are affected, as well as how beneficial the communities would benefit; it is also important to look at the long term goals and future policies the regions must follow after they accept help from the government. In regards to long-term goals, several levies have passed in Youngstown, for example, that have aided in the accumulation of extra resources to help provide funds for the sewage treatment facilities. These levies passed in October of 2015 and will stay for at least 15 years, and accumulate over $6,527,006 a year (Young, 2015). These examples set forth important action to expect the regions to look at ways to implement regulations and policy. With this in
  19. 19. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 19 mind, future action like this should not be easily overlooked, or ignored. There must be chances to require funds through several avenues of the public sector, before the disaster explodes and becomes a crisis. Action like this in many forms could help alleviate the stress is split up into many sectors of payments of the years, instead of expecting communities to pay huge amounts at once, each year. Advancements in the Policy of Wastewater Treatment Facilities in Germany According to recent global technology advancements, Germany for example has improved it wastewater capabilities. In 2011, The German Engineering Federation spent nearly $1,100,000,000 in updating its wastewater technology and treatment facilities (Grayson, 2013). The country had spent nearly a decade finding innovative ways to improve its water technologies. The country used what is called aerobic and anaerobic processes. They both use oxygen and non-oxygen resources respectively; the anaerobic process even produces biogas which can be used to produce electricity and heating energy (Wendland and Albold, 2010). The research tends to focus on decentralized and low-tech solution such as onsite systems; ponds and other types of wetlands can be adapted to some rural areas. More urban areas are treated up to three times, with harmful chemicals and other damaging materials removed prior to being emptied into a local stream, lake, or river (Hinrichs, Schäfer, and Kocks, 2012). According to the German technological advances, there is must to learn from how to properly treat and recycle previous waste and dirty water to create sustainable and extra resources for the environment all in one. Roles of Social Workers in the Need for the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 and 2016 As we know, social workers are in high demand when it comes to large societal issues, individual problems, and smaller community concerns. Social workers can help make the Clean
  20. 20. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 20 Water Affordability Act of 2014 come to life in many ways. As of 2015, Sherrod Brown acknowledged the fact his previous introductions of the same bill have died twice, once in 2010 and the one this paper describes, in 2015. After witnessing several newly failed incidents of sewage treatment facilities in Toledo and Michigan, Senator Brown planned to re-introduce the Clean Water Affordability Act in 2016 (Miliken, 2015). Because policy is ever changing, it is important for social workers to be ahead of the game in regards to deadlines, voting, and advocacy for change. Furthermore, during these times of activism, plans for crowd funding, local grassroots education, and community outreach is important and even vital to the pass or fail of an upcoming bill. Even as this piece is written, aims are high to reintroduce the next Clean Water affordability Act in 2016 as soon as logistics and final touch ups occur with the newly proposed bill. Until then, it is an ongoing fight to attempt to work toward the most recent bill in hopes to gain awareness of the issue. As far we know, social workers can aim to support the basic similar efforts Senator Brown tried to enact back in 2014, such as the 75 and 25 percent fund sources by the government and local community sectors. They seem to have very similar provisions and expectations of the previous bills, for the most part. Social workers must be able to approach these bills as alive, even though they have been forgotten or dismissed. Although the journey to enact this bill has met dismissal several times, it is paramount to increase understanding and interest by community involvement, outsource funds for the litigation of the bill, and to advertise the continuation of the policy work in order to see the bill re-introduced faster. Conclusion Currently, the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 has been stalled, like how some bills do in the Senate or in the House of Representatives. However, because this bill is on its way
  21. 21. YOUNGSTOWN AND THE CLEAN WATER AFFORDABILITY ACT 21 to becoming re-introduced in 2016 by Sherrod Brown, and because it has much support from similar politicians like House of Representative Robert E. Letta (R-OH-5), we may see this bill finally completed and reviewed during the next year, in 2016 (Miliken, 2015). As social workers, understanding failed bills can be a motivation to improve and advocate for the community affected by this bill who need it most, as well as a chance to work with politicians who need support by voting and funding for their causes. Ultimately, approaching the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 is imperative to understanding future work of the same nature. Environmental intervention is definitely needed for regions affected by failed and outdated water treatment plants and facilities. It is imperative to implement this bill and future environmental bills pertaining to the treatment of water and combined sewer systems. There is hope that cities like Youngstown will stick to its predetermined mandates in updating its system as decided by the EPA, for example. However, if funds run out, the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2016 will be the necessary catalyst that drives the change and improvements in the previously failed policies and mechanisms of the past. I feel that as a citizen, it is a personal task that must involve a whole village to accomplish. If all the components do not become present, my hometown family neighborhood, the preservation of the local historic landmarks and parks, and the future health and safety of friends and family will be a thing of the past.