Village of Hobart
Interns David Follansbee (center) and
Natalia Perez (right) under the tutelage of
Richie Horne (left), Village of Hobart wastewater
treatment plant operator
In 2009, a small village requested an intern to assist in developing a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) pretreatment program to regulate discharges to their wastewater treatment plant. The village was unsure how to begin to regulate a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility which discharges process wastewater. No EPA approved test methods exist to specifically analyze for active pharmaceutical ingredients in wastewater. The wastewater treatment plant suspects that discharges from the manufacturing facility are causing interference with plant operations. Natalia Perez, a 5th year civil engineering student at the University of Florida at Gainesville with an interest in public works, was hired to evaluate the village's pretreatment program, and research a better way to regulate the pharmaceutical discharges. Ms. Perez spent mornings at the wastewater treatment plant, assisting with daily operations and learning about the plant. In the afternoons, she researched the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pretreatment programs, as well as existing programs at nearby communities. With help from both EPA NPDES Pretreatment staff and NYSDEC Division of Water staff, Ms. Perez recommended that the Village's SPDES permit be modified to include Whole Effluent Toxicity testing, which could then be used as a tool to regulate the pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. Recommending Whole Effluent Toxicity Testing for this situation is a novel approach which can be particularly useful for small communities faced with regulating one or two large industrial users where existing laboratory methods may not be adequate. Ms. Perez worked closely with the intern at the pharmaceutical facility.