Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Challenge of Diminishing Returns

The Chesapeake Bay Committee convened by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments met with Jeff Corbin, the Special Assistant to the Administrator on the Chesapeake Bay for USEPA. One of the key messages is the challenge of increasing costs at the margin for protections from wastewater treatment facilities - and the bills being covered by urban ratepayers. I believe that ratepayers to treatment facilities have shouldered the costs of the most significant reductions to pollutants to our waterways, and have thereby done more for water quality than any other sector in the country. This is an excellent outcome and the right one. Sometimes, though, success is a challenge - because we keep doing what has worked in the past and what we know. Continuing a focus on treatment facilities - water reclamation really - will likely cause expenditures that no longer make sense at the margin. This is particularly important since we know that the most sources of pollutants to our waterways are now from other sources -- usually non-point sources from agriculture and developed lands.

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