- Associated Press - Sunday, January 31, 2016

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Two large wastewater plants in southwestern Ohio are appealing an order to reduce how much phosphorus is released into a tributary of the Ohio River.

Dayton and Montgomery County said changing their operations to comply with the new rules could cost up to $2 million.

Both want the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission to force the state’s environmental regulators to delay establishing limits until another study of the river is completed.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the restrictions will cut down a key ingredient in the toxic algae blooms that have become a growing concern around the state.

The state EPA has proposed phasing in new discharge limits over the next three years at the plants. The two plants, which send wastewater into the Great Miami River, would face the same limits as plants whose wastewater ends up in Lake Erie, said EPA spokeswoman Dina Pierce.

Costs should not be a problem because other water treatment plants have had this limit and have not found the expenses a burden, she said.

The new limits would be the first imposed on public wastewater plants on the Great Miami River. Two industrial plants that discharge treated water into the river also must comply with new phosphorus limits.

Agency officials decided to impose the limits following a 2010 water quality study of the lower Great Miami River, which flows into the Ohio River west of Cincinnati.

The study showed during the summer and early fall most of the phosphorus in the river comes from the Dayton and Montgomery plant discharges, Pierce said. The new limits would be in place only during those months.

Operators of both wastewater plants said the EPA should wait until the two systems complete their own study of all sources of pollution in the river.

Tammi Clements, the head of Dayton’s water department, told the Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/23vYRB6) that the study may find that working with farms would do more to reduce phosphorus in the river.

The study, which is being done with 14 other communities that discharge into the river, should help show how phosphorus levels are affected by urban runoff and farming, as well as the treatment plants.

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