Thursday, September 13, 2018

EPA Stormwater Lawsuit Against Colorado Springs Begins

Trial proceedings for the lawsuit against Colorado Springs
filed by the EPA began last week. Colorado Springs allegedly
neglected its stormwater system, leading to pollution of the Arkansas River.

Last week, opening arguments began for the lawsuit filed against the city of Colorado Springs by the EPA. The lawsuit alleges that due to gross neglect of its stormwater system, Colorado Springs allowed over 295,000 tons of runoff waste to flow into the Arkansas River.

Filed back in November 2016, the plaintiffs include the EPA as well as communities south of Colorado Springs, such as Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley. The lawsuit hinges on three specific areas in Colorado where failure to upkeep the city's stormwater sewer system resulted in pollution. Inadequate maintenance allowed trash and sediment to accumulate in waterways and degrade several tributaries along the Arkansas River. As a result, creeks along the river grew out of control during storms, leading to flooding and erosion.

With the natural course of the river altered, some communities further south of Colorado Springs found their waterways contaminated. Allegedly, the runoff flowing downstream was allowed to accumulate in these areas and cause pollution.

"As the runoff flows over land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that can adversely affect water quality, erode stream banks, destroy needed habitat for fish and other aquatic life, and make it more difficult and expensive for downstream users to effectively use the water," the plaintiffs said in an official complaint.

The City of Colorado Springs failed its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) inspection in both 2013 and 2015. Repeated violations including lack of stormwater controls, improper drainage and "many deficiencies in the City's review, approval, oversight, and enforcement of construction" prompted the EPA to take legal action.

Colorado Springs and CDPHE contend that the failures are a result of inadequate funding to its stormwater program. Recently, Mayor John Suthers implemented a city stormwater fee to generate more funding. Colorado Springs city officials also reached a deal with Pueblo County to spend $460 million on stormwater projects over the next twenty years; however, these actions have not led to a settlement of the lawsuit.

"I'm very disappointed with the approach the plaintiffs have taken in this case. The city of Colorado Springs has done absolutely everything its power to implement the best stormwater system in the state, to include voter endorsement of a monthly residential and non-residential stormwater fee. I had hoped that these would be the results that the plaintiffs would want to see, rather than expensive and unproductive litigation," Mayor John Suthers said in a recent press release.

For citizens of Colorado Springs, the outcome of the lawsuit is significant. If Colorado Springs is found at fault, then the city could be fined millions of dollars or face a court order to spend more on restoration projects. The money must come from somewhere- whether it's taking away from other areas such as roads and parks, or more fees such as the stormwater fee program.

However, the stakes are just as dire for residents in communities south of the Arkansas River. Remediating poor water quality can be expensive, but increased levels of E. coli, erosion and flooding are extremely dangerous to residents. A victory in their favor could help quickly restore affected areas.

The bench trial is expected to end soon this week and presiding Judge Richard P. Matsch will either issue a ruling or take the lawsuit under advisement.

To follow the litigation, visit the Colorado Springs Independent. To learn more about stormwater management, visit Zack Academy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Rust-Oleum Paint Recalled for High Levels of Lead

Popular paint brand Rust-Oleum recalled its black satin
countertop coating due to the paint
containing dangerous levels of lead.

Contractors and homeowners who recently remodeled any kitchens may want to double check their countertops. Recently, Rust-Oleum recalled its black satin countertop coating due to the presence of high levels of lead. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, this recall affects about 1,800 cans of countertop coating.

The recalled cans have the product number 263209 and the batch code P7612D. Consumers can find the product number and batch code on the bottom of the can, which is silver and has a green and white label. This batch of countertop coating was sold between June 2017 and February 2018; Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com and Ace Hardware are few of the retailers that sold affected batches.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urges consumers to stop using this product immediately and contact Rust-Oleum right away. If you have an unused can of the recalled coating, you will receive a refund plus $25 when you return it. If you've already applied the coating, Rust-Oleum will send you a repair kit for the affected areas.

The use of lead-based paint in homes was banned in 1978. Research has proven that exposure to lead can cause bone, blood and reproductive disorders- as well as irreversible cognitive delays. Lead paint exposure is often the result of deteriorating older homes, where paint chips and dust are inhaled or swallowed; lead paint exposure from brand new paint is unlikely but not unheard of.

If you believe your project may have used Rust-Oleum's black satin countertop coating, do not hesitate to contact Rust-Oleum. Lead poisoning is often cumulative - meaning that small amounts of exposure of a period of time can lead to devastating health consequences.

To learn more about the Rust-Oleum recall, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. To learn more about lead paint certification and how to deal with lead paint safely, visit Zack Academy.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Seven Benefits of IICRC Certification

Restoration and Remediation Magazine recently explained
seven advantages of IICRC certification
for restoration professionals.

Earlier this week, Restoration and Remediation (R&R) Magazine listed seven reasons why IICRC certification makes a difference for restoration professionals.

R&R Magazine is a leader in the restoration industry, reporting on business trends across a variety of platforms. The biggest media resource of restoration news, if R&R is considered the pulse of restoration then IICRC certification is the heart. IICRC - or the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration- is recognized nationwide as an authority on professional restoration services. IICRC-certified technicians enjoy a host of benefits for their advanced training. Below are four of the seven ways IICRC certification makes a difference for restoration professionals:


  1. Customers Want Trained Technicians: "Any company can vouch for its employees' abilities and experience," Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, a veteran restoration company owner, says. However, IICRC certification shows to customers that a technician is thoroughly trained. Moreover, IICRC-certified technicians must maintain their certification with continuing education, which means they stay up to date with the latest industry techniques. That's important when handling hazardous chemicals and advanced equipment.
  2. Professionals Want Market Visibility: IICRC-certified companies get the benefit of listing their company in the IICRC referral database. When a client searches "restoration" on the Web, IICRC is one of the first (if not the very first) listings. IICRC certification can increase a company's visibility and attract more clients. 
  3. Customers Want Accountability: After a flood, fire, or other disaster destroys their homes, the last thing a customer wants to worry about is whether your restoration company can be trusted to see the job through. Maintaining an IICRC certification requires a responsible business model. When a prospective customer sees the IICRC logo on your company, they know you have valid liability insurance, vetted complaint policies and a national entity to contact for additional guidance. IICRC certification can go a long way toward building trust between contractor and customer.
  4. Professionals Want to Offer More Services: IICRC certification makes it easy for a company to do it all- from water damage restoration and mold remediation to thermography and structural drying. You can enhance your business by enjoying perks for earning more IICRC certifications while being sure you're learning the most relevant techniques.
IICRC certification can take your restoration career to the next level. If you're ready to make your next move in this industry, consider your certification options today.

To read all of the seven advantages of IICRC certification, visit R&R Magazine. To learn more about IICRC certification, visit Zack Academy. Zack Academy offers a variety of IICRC certification courses at all levels nationwide.

Detroit Shuts off Water in Schools After Finding Lead

Although only 16 of its 110 public schools were tested, Detroit officials
are not taking chances and decided to shut off drinking water
until the lead hazards are removed.

Last week, Detroit city officials shut off drinking water at all local public schools after high levels of lead and other heavy metals were found in water at 16 schools. District officials have ordered bottled water and coolers to be provided to students and faculty until the hazard is removed.

Although not every school was tested for lead, the test results provided enough of an impetus for the district to take broad action.

"We have no reason to believe that any children have been harmed," Chrystal Wilson, a spokeswoman for the district, said in a recent press release.

Detroit's 110 public schools are due to begin classes next week. The Great Lakes Water Authority and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department stated that the water surpassed all federal and state standards for quality and safety after treatment. Experts believe that the drinking water contamination was caused by old, eroding pipes in the historic buildings.

Lead leaching from outdated plumbing systems is an increased concern across the United States as infrastructure ages. Old lead pipes are susceptible to corrosion and this has led to lead hazards in many cities. Several states have pushed to replace old lead service lines, but this can be expensive and adequate funding is not always available.

Lead exposure is known to cause impaired cognitive function in children as well as bone, blood and reproductive dysfunctions. The city of Detroit is no stranger to childhood lead poisoning as nearby Flint has been the site of an ongoing crisis from lead-contaminated water. It seems that in light of these circumstances, Detroit officials are hesitant to take chances with their students.

To read updates on this ongoing situation, follow the Detroit Free Press. To learn more about lead certification and how to get involved in this important field, visit Zack Academy.