The federal government will assume control over water regulations in Oklahoma this summer unless the state spends $2 million to come into compliance with water quality standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency sets water quality rules, and states enforce them. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has been unable to implement a number of regulations pertaining to microbial pathogens and disinfection byproducts adopted in 2005 and 2006.
"Once those three new rules were in place, we knew we did not have the resources to implement those, and EPA determined they would continue implementing those until we got the funding in place," Shellie Chard-McClary, director of DEQ's Water Quality Division, recently told StateImpact.
But unless Oklahoma assumes financial responsibility for these regulations by June, the EPA will take over. Oklahoma would become just the second state to opt out of the Public Water System Supervision program and relinquish control to the feds. Wyoming has never participated.
The possibility has some small town officials concerned. They worry federal regulators will be less accessible and less appreciative of local problems.
"The staff at DEQ -- whenever I can call them and say, 'I'm out of water. This is what's going on. These are my ideas. What do y'all think? Help me,' and they're there, that means more than all these regulations and everything," Rita LoPresto, city manager of Konawa, told StateImpact.
It could also mean Oklahoma would see millions less in federal loan and grant funding coming its way -- dollars the state needs to update its aging water systems.
Oklahoma has sharply cut its budget during the recession of the last three years. According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the state government workforce has dropped nearly 10 percent since 2009.
The DEQ recently approved new fees that will raise roughly $500,000 – meaning the legislature must still appropriate another $1.5 million.
With the threat of an EPA takeover just over the horizon, DEQ Director Chard-McClary thinks state lawmakers will make that happen. "Although it has been attempted in the past, I think this has been the best cooperative effort in trying to get the funding in place," she told StateImpact.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/14/2013
Editor's Note: Every time an "agency" of the federal government "assumes responsibility" for anything that comes under the purview of the States, the federal government expands its power beyond the boundaries for which it was created. At a moment in time when the federal government is led by those who would deceive the American people in order to advance an ideological agenda (Obamacare wasn't a tax...then it was in front of SCOTUS...then it wasn't once SCOTUS ruled it was...then our taxes went up) the last line of defense is States Rights...State lawmakers, cede nothing!...
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