Bush Administration Plans to Ease Sewage-Treatment Rules

More disease-carrying microbes from doo-doo could contaminate U.S. waterways, lakes, and coastlines if the Bush administration proceeds with plans to loosen sewage-treatment requirements. This week, the U.S. EPA intends to unveil a proposed rule change that would let many communities skip a sewage-treatment step after storms cause an increased flow of wastewater; the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal. Many local sewage-treatment plants don’t have the capacity to handle storm-water surges and it would cost billions to make upgrades at these facilities. But the looser rules would lead to more viruses and parasites in water, says Nancy Stoner of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a group that’s pushing for the federal government to help communities boost capacity at the nation’s sewage plants.