A DEQ spokesman gave Mayor Bob Morris a heads-up last week that the city has been in violation since 2006. According to DEQ, it conducts periodic reviews of wastewater facility reports and such a review earned Eunice the notice that is still within the DEQ bureaucracy.
Morris said Wednesday that he thinks the pending notification is more than enough justification to do all that is needed, and more, at the plant.
“We’ve got capital outlay funds in this year’s budget and next year’s for wastewater improvements. I think it’s time to get that place fixed for current and potential demand,” he said.
As for a violation notice that goes back two years, Morris is puzzled by what he says is the absence of any kind of negative material from DEQ in the city file during that period.
There is no indication in files at City Hall since the last round of DEQ-ordered improvements in 2003-04 that the city wasn’t meeting discharge standards, Morris said.
“I ask for citizens to use perspective. We’re in a serious position with DEQ due to what I think has been gross negligence that began at least as far back as October 2004,” the mayor said.
Morris since January has gone round and round with the City Council, City Attorney Jacque Pucheu and consulting engineer Karl Aucoin over the plant equipment’s status and history.
He has accused Pucheu and Aucoin of collaboration to cover-up plant shortcomings, has stopped paying Aucoin a monthly retainer, and has asked Pucheu to resign.
Morris repeated that request Wednesday, saying, “I need a city attorney to help me work this out, not work against me.”
Morris thinks the DEQ letter might constitute an emergency which allows latitude in contracts for public works but has told Pucheu not to research that question.
Meanwhile, Pucheu has asked for information so he can determine whether bids received this month on equipment for the plant should be re-advertised.
At a special meeting this month, the City Council accepted the $216,000 bid, provide Pucheu certify the bid process as meeting legal requirements.
The question is over the absence of a bond submitted with the each bid.