Continuing Need for Improved Operation and Maintenance of Municipal Waste Treatment Plants

CED-77-46: Published: Apr 11, 1977. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 1977.

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Operation and maintenance problems at municipal waste treatment plants constructed with federal grant assistance have been widespread for many years and have led to inefficient plant operations and the discharge of unnecessarily high pollution loads into the nation's waterways.

GAO visited 28 plants in six states and noted insufficient plant-operating personnel, inadequate budgets, inadequate controls over industrial wastes, inadequate laboratory controls, inadequate plant design and equipment, and infiltration/inflow problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is aware of the operation and maintenance problems and has identified actions necessary to correct some of them; however, its regional offices and the states have been slow to effectively implement these actions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should: (1) develop and publish guidance for the regional offices which specifies the operation and maintenance considerations which should be discussed with municipalities during preapplication conferences; (2) instruct the regional offices and the states that, whenever discharge permits are to be issued or revised for waste treatment plants with major operation and maintenance problems, such permits should be appropriately tailored on the basis of actual operating data to help correct the problems; (3) require the states to conduct regularly scheduled operation and maintenance inspections at municipal waste treatment plants in accordance with agency guidelines and to document the results of these inspections on the standard agency form; and (4) require all regions and encourage the states to maintain an adequate technical assistance capability.

    Agency Affected:


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