Birmingham Votes to withdraw from SWMA

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Important Storm Water news and request by Nelson Brooke, Riverkeeper:

On Tuesday the Birmingham City Council voted to withdraw from the Storm Water Management Authority (SWMA) The council has until October to decide whether or not to rejoin SWMA. It will cost the city more to go it alone than through participation in SWMA’s regional program. Mayor Kincaid’s administration considered withdrawing, but concluded such a move wasn’t in the city’s best interest. Jefferson County withdrew only to rejoin after realizing they made a bad decision.

The city council is currently considering a Malcolm Pirnie proposal to do the work for the city. Going it alone means more comprehensive and stringent permit requirements for the city, which includes having to test many more sites. I encourage you to contact the city council and Mayor Langford to let them know you do not support their withdrawal. SWMA is doing a good job and there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

At the council meeting on Tuesday both Councilman Joel Montgomery and Mayor Langford said SWMA was not out there monitoring streams for pollution. What do they think SWMA does? I can personally attest to the fact that SWMA inspectors are very active in monitoring Birmingham’s streams. The two local authorities in charge of enforcing pollution found by SWMA and Black Warrior Riverkeeper are Birmingham’s own engineering department and the state Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). They are not doing their job of keeping pollution from entering area streams. Why would one think a consulting firm hired by the city would do a better job than an already established county agency?

Let’s not be fooled here. Mayor Langford and some of the city council are paving the way for relaxed restrictions on and regulation of those who make money by putting their pollution burden on the public. A lot of powerful interests (i.e. those who support BARD – see article links below for more info) externalize their costs on the greater public by refusing to pay for necessary pollution controls. The result for us is polluted water resources. The result for them is fatter pockets. Without SWMA, the fox will be guarding the hen house in Jefferson County and pollution will continue unabated just like it always has. Rest assured, ADEM is a toothless fox.

For more information on this story click the following two links for Birmingham News articles:

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