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Question 14: Please furnish details of the criteria used for awards of grants and research contracts for water pollution abatement research.
Answer: Contracts Research contract proposals are submitted to this administration as unsolicited proposals or in response to published requests for R. & D. qualifications and subsequent requests for proposals to solve specified research problems.
Upon receipt of a proposal, our technical staff reviews it to determine its general priority with respect to our research needs. That is, does it relate to a problem of significance, would it provide practical and usable results, what is its probable chance of success, what is the "payoff” if it succeeds and what is the negative impact on pollution control if it does not? Following this initial review, and assuming it is favorable, a more detailed evaluation is performed by other research staff, often located at our field laboratories, who are specialists in the subject area of the proposal, by scientists and engineers in other FWPCA activities, and by consultants (e.g., from universities, private industry, or other agencies). Based on these more detailed' evaluations of the technical soundness of the project and approach proposed as well as on the project's priority with respect to accomplishing our program mission and the availability of funds, the final decision is then made to negotiate a contract or not.
In summary, contract proposals are evaluated on the following basis:
1. Relationship to program objectives and research needs;
5. Availability of funds and research priorities. Grants Proposals of independent investigators largely determine distribution of grant-supported research and development projects. Proposals are submitted to the program in the form of applications which are reviewed by panels of non-Federal advisory consultants. This review includes an evaluation of (1) scientific merit and significance of the project; (2) competency of the staff responsible for conducting the type of research proposed; (3) feasibility of the project and potentially useful results; (4) adequacy of the applicant's resources available for the project; (5) amounts of grant funds needed; and (6) the relationship to the Water Pollution Control Administration mission.
Question 15: There appear to be more and more opportunities for transferring pollution from one segment of the environment to another, that is, from water to air, or air to the soil. Now that Federal Water Pollution Control Administration has been transferred to the Department of the Interior, what means are provided for coordinating the efforts of your agency with the air and solid waste pollution control programs of the Public Health Service in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare? Also with the public health aspects of the water pollution abatement programs which, the committee understands, have been retained in the Public Health Service because of their effect on public health?
Answer: Communication between the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration and Public Health Service, Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare, is a continuous process. There are no formal means yet established for coordinating the efforts of the FWPCA and the air and solid waste pollution programs of the PHS, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Since many of the staff of the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration were employees of the Public Health Service and a number of commissioned corps officers have transferred to these programs from the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration, a great number of professional contacts, both formal and informal, have been developed and are maintained.
With respect to the public health aspects of water pollution abatement programs, an interdepartmental agreement concerning consultation on health aspects of water pollution control has been developed. This agreement was signed by Secretaries Udall and Gardner on August 8, 1966. The President is now reviewing this agreement.
Question 16:18 your agency concerned with research into aspects of social science so as to better prepare the public to take necessary action in connection with pollution abatement? Please give details of what is being done, or reasons why this is not being done.
Answer: Under proposed expansion of research activities, the research and development program of the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration will conduct research into socioeconomic aspects of the water pollution problem where there are gap areas in the existing social sciences and to the extent that progress in the elimination of pollution is inhibited by these deficiencies of knowledge. Some of our research grants have dealt with socioeconomic research but because of limited funding in the past, direct research has not been conducted on socioeconomic aspects of water pollution. Definition of specific research needs in this area is planned during the current fiscal year. Several specific research needs already recognized include development of methodology to determine (1) the optimum modes of financing and cost allocation of water pollution control programs; (2) the most effective institutional arrangements, both on a nationwide basis and on a regional basis, for the most efficient quality management of the water resource. Research will be initiated in these areas in fiscal year 1968.
Question 17: 18 your agency doing any research into the effects in the way effluent charges would work to reduce pollution? Please give details of what is being done, or reasons why this is not being done.
Answer: The Federal Water Pollution Control Administration completed a preliminary study of the effluent charge during 1965. This study was designed to determine the amount of the charge that would produce the same water quality objectives as would be achieved by prescribed treatment levels. Data and experience gained from the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration comprehensive quality control study of the Delaware River estuary were used. The theoretical computations showed that a variable charge from 5 to 8 cents per pound of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) discharged to the stream would be appropriate.
Additional research on the problem is now being planned. Administrative and technical problems which were not considered in the first effort will be examined. It is necessary to evolve (a) the costs required to administer the system of effluent charges, (6) the optimal
institutional framework for the system and, (c) the necessary monitoring network for most effective operation of the system. The study will also attempt to determine methods for determining variations in the charges to allow for upgrading in the use characteristics of the Nation's water resource over time. Attempts will be made also to determine industry attitude and response to such a system. These preparations are being made in conjunction with the Delaware River Basin Commission.
Question 18: Recent news releases by the Department of the Interior suggest a “breakthrough” in control of algae in the waters receiving sewage plant effluent, through an inexpensive means of reducing the amount of phosphate in the effluent. Please explain the importance of the development reported, and how it relates to the testimony given the committee.
Answer: Recent investigations at the municipal sewage treatment plant, San Antonio, Tex., by the research staff of our Robert S. Kerr Water Research Center, Ada, Okla., have indicated that by a combination of modifications to activated sludge process operating parameters, removal of phosphorus to the 80 to 90 percent level may be possible. The experimentation is still in the preliminary stage and much work remains to be done before such modifications could be applied on a broad scale throughout the Nation. The findings, however, are of potentially breakthrough significance because of the possibility opened for achieving much higher phosphate removals in conventional treatment systems then thought possible. Effort in this area is undergoing substantial acceleration.
In terms of the importance of this development, however, the discussion presented in response to questions 7 and 10 must be borne in mind. Even with increases in phosphorus removal to the order of 80 or 90 percent, the remaining 10 to 20 percent residual load will become of real significance in the near future. Further, elimination of algal blooms, the primary manifestation of accelerated eutrophication is not absolutely tied to the attainment of high efficiency phosphorus removal from municipal outfalls. The mechanisms of accelerated eutrophication and the waste components that are primarily responsible for the development of algal bloom nuisance conditions are incompletely known at this time. Nitrogen and phosphorus compounds are generally believed to be associated with the development of such conditions but the critical controlling contaminant could conceivably be some other trace contaminant presently unknown.
Question 19: Is your agency doing any research on possibilities for stimulating growth of algae or other aquatic plants and harvesting them as a means of removing nutrients from sewage plant effluents?
Answer: Algae, when their growth is stimulated in shallow ponds with frequent mixing, can accumulate within themselves at least 80 percent of the nitrogen and from 75 to more than 98 percent of the phosphorus in waste water depending upon the operating and environmental conditions employed. Removals of this order can theoretically be achieved if an efficient harvesting technique is used to separate the algae from the water. A variety of harvesting methods have been studied by a variety of investigators but none has yet been highly successful from both technical and economic standpoints. Moreover, the process is probably applicable only in areas of consistently high
sunlight intensity for it appears that the provision of artificial light, to make the process more widely applicable, would increase process: cost prohibitively. We have conducted research jointly with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts at Lancaster, Calif., on the removal of nutrients by algae with emphasis on the harvesting problems involved. A contract with North American Aviation (largely funded through a transfer of funds from NASA) was devoted to the study of forced algae growth for waste water treatment.
By physical-chemical methods now under study, more than 95 percent of the nitrogen and essentially all of the phosphate can be removed by adjustment of the pH of certain secondary effluents to approximately 11. The phosphates are precipitated chemically while the nitrogen, in the ammonia form, may be removed by air stripping.
In yet another approach to nutrient removal now under study, the activated sludge process is controlled and modified to achieve biological nitrification and subsequent denitrification. Potentially, a large percentage of the nitrogen may be removed by this process through biological conversion to harmless nitrogen gas.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, RESEARCH
AND DEVELOPMENT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Question 1: Would you discuss, in the light of the Department of Defense experiences, the relationship between our capability to develop standards and criteria, and the establishment of realistio enforcement programs? (E..., do we apply the same standards to our camps in the United States and at places like Adak?)
Answer: Based upon the experiences of the Department of Defense, any realistic program for enforcement must recognize the wide range on environmental quality which may be permitted to preserve or enhance a specific environment for its desired utilization. A majo part of the problem, as indicated in our previous testimony is not so much in the realm of technical or professional environmental experts, as in that of socioeconomic-political value judgments.
Not only may different standards be appropriate for facilities in isolated and remote areas, such as Alaska, or some of the Pacific areas, but varying degrees of quality may be appropriate for different locations within the continental limits of the United States. Ipso facto application of a single "standard” for Federal installations would violate some of the fundamental principles of political economics. In that connection both the Executive orders on water pollution and air pollution recognize that varying degrees of control may be appropriate in different locations and for different situations, and provide for exemptions to the "standards" for water pollụtion and the use of “secondary treatment.” This does not establish a degree of effluent quality, but rather establishes a treatment method to be used; and one that affords a widely varying degree of efficiency in waste water treatment. As an example, some secondary treatment processes might remove 85 percent of the organic loading from the influent to them, and others as high as 95 percent. In combination with other processes, depending upon the effluent desired, and the amount of expense willing to be undertaken, virtually any desired degree of removal might be achieved. The type of secondary treatment provided obviously must be based on professional judgment of the many methods which might be used to provide either effluent quality, or to prevent an adverse effect on desired conditions in the receiving environment.
The question of varying requirements for varying desired uses has long been studied by the specialists in the fields of water resources. As long ago as the 1930 time period, suggestions as to the possible classification of waters by intended usages were developed. (See "Tendencies and Standards of Rivers and Lake Cleanliness," Sewage Works Journal, vol. VI, July 1934; and “Sewage Treatment,” Imhoff and Fair, McGraw-Hill Co., 1940.) The majority of existing statutes of the various States follow the general philosophy enunciated in these and similar authoritative works. The tremendous success of the participants in the Ohio River compacts may be attributed to the recognition of these differences in requirements, and the use of a wide variety