Libby Ford, senior environmental health engineer and a member of the Energy and Environmental practice group, works with her clients on various aspects of water quality, facility siting and permitting, wastewater and drinking water compliance, site investigation, remediation and/or demolition, wastewater treatment including industrial pretreatment and the technical aspects of environmental negotiation.
I often lead the water permitting and water quality protection aspects of new facility permitting, major expansions and permit renewals. My focus is obtaining workable permits that comply with requirements but which allow my clients to retain as much flexibility as possible over the 5 to 10 year life of the permit. I also work with my clients, their attorneys and technical consultants to put together and implement long-term water-related compliance strategies, especially around such complex issues as drinking water quality, cooling water intakes and discharges, wet weather management and nutrient reduction.
I am currently working on multiple coal-fired power plant sales, decommissioning, demolition and/or remediation projects, including two of the largest (and first) in the Northeast. In addition to taking the lead on obtaining environmental permits and the water-related aspects of these projects, I focus on making sure the technical specifications and the contract language are consistent with each other and are being implemented as written.
These projects can drag on for decades unless they are well planned and their mountains of data understood and then presented in a manner that shows that the remedial objectives have been met, or that the site is as clean as is reasonably practical. Together with Nixon Peabody attorneys, I work with clients and their technical consultant at all phases to make sure the technical “case” is made, well documented and communicated.
Water as a resource and a necessary component of virtually every industry and institution is becoming an increasingly critical aspect of their future success. As the relatively new administration in the United States makes significant changes to existing regulations, policies and application procedures, I see increased delays but also opportunities to reduce application and compliance time and costs. On another front, drinking water quality issues will continue to garner public and political attention with litigation threats being heightened.
Libby was previously employed as an engineer with an environmental consulting firm where she was primarily involved in preparing environmental impact statements. She also assisted the Rochester Institute of Technology as it set up its Masters in Environmental, Health and Safety Management. She then taught within this program as an adjunct professor for several years. Libby has on going attendance at numerous short courses and seminars, often as a presenter or instructor. She has received a number of professional certifications (listed below) as well as awards and other recognitions from various professional organizations. Ms. Ford has also served on a number of agency and educational institution advisory boards.
Libby works with clients to identify and resolve a broad range of water-related issues including: S/NPDES permitting and investigating alleged violations of S/NPDES permits and developing corrective actions, technical explanations and/or defenses for same. In addition to traditional S/NPDES issues, she works with clients and their chemical suppliers to get approval of their use and discharge of “Water Treatment Chemicals,” residuals of which may end up discharged to surface or groundwaters. Libby has been involved in conceptual discussions of wastewater treatment for shale gas and other hydraulic fracturing wastewater, with a specific focus on how management and treatment of this wastewater is or will be regulated and what level of effluent quality is needed depending on the end use of the treated wastewater (reuse in hydraulic fracturing, discharge to the environment etc.).
With the legionella and lead related drinking water situation in Flint Michigan and the discovery of perflurocarbon compounds in drinking water elsewhere, the public has lost faith in the quality of the water coming out of their taps. Lawsuits have been initiated accusing schools, childcare facilities, municipalities, hotels, cruise ship lines and others of everything from hiding information to supplying water that caused bodily harm and even death. Libby works mainly with building owners and institutions who supply municipal or other “potable” water to their tenants, students, employees and others when a question as to their drinking water quality has been raised. Typically working with a Nixon Peabody attorney, a client team and one or more outside experts, Libby’s focus is to ensure that the technical aspects of the investigation and any remedial actions are consistent with best practices and legal requirements while minimizing the risk to her client.
Libby has coordinated the work done by a team consisting of the utility’s corporate environmental staff, its plant level environmental and operations staff and an outside environmental technical consultant involving a detailed engineering and environmental review of thermal discharge alternatives for the power plant’s once through cooling thermal discharge. She prepared the DEIS scoping statement and essentially coordinated the team which prepared the F/DEIS.
Coordinated and prepared or reviewed environmental impact assessments and environmental impact statements. Lead or coauthor of Environmental Assessments or Impact Statements on:
It is not unusual for qualified technical experts to disagree as to the cause and/or the effects of an environmental issue. Such disputes can block the resolution of broader conflicts (such as between current and past property owners or between a permit applicant and the permitting agency). Libby draws on more than forty years of tackling and resolving these issues, allowing the broader conflict to be subsequently resolved. Trained as a mediator, Libby has applied her science, engineering and her experience working with the legal and regulatory community to help resolve technical questions. Past successes include:
Libby has published and lectured on a wide range of environmental technical, regulatory and policy issues in such forums as Law 360, Water, Environment & Technology, Clearwaters and The Practical Lawyer. A partial list of publications and recent lectures is available upon request.
Rochester Business Journal | November 23, 2018
Rochester Corporate partner Jeremy Wolk wrote this contributed column on recent cases involving the Clean Water Act and discharges to groundwater, drawing from an alert by San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt, Albany associate Dana Stanton and senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford, all of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate group.
Law360 | April 29, 2018
San Francisco energy and environmental partner Alison Torbitt, New York City project finance partner Scott Singer and Rochester senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford co-wrote this article outlining an EPA loan program for new water infrastructure projects.
Inside EPA | September 15, 2017
This article about the pending New York legislation that would expand residents’ environmental rights quotes a recent Nixon Peabody blog post titled “What’s Trending: New York possible constitutional right to clean air and water,” authored by Albany Energy & Environmental partner Ruth Leistensnider and Rochester Energy & Environmental group professional specialist Libby Ford.
Bloomberg Law | July 14, 2017
Rochester energy and environmental partner Jean McCreary, professional specialist Libby Ford, and Albany health care partner Peter Millock authored this article about the memo sent to all State Survey Agency Directors from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding a new requirement for certified health facilities to assess and address Legionella-related risks in their water systems.
ClearWaters | December 21, 2016
A discussion of five cases that might impact wastewater permitting regulations for holders of SPDES permits, written by Rochester senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford, San Francisco Energy and Environmental associate Alison Torbitt, and Albany counsel Peter Trimarchi.
Law360 | July 29, 2016
This guest column authored by Rochester energy and environmental partner Jean McCreary and Rochester senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford focuses on final cooling tower regulations put into place by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to protect against legionella and other bacteria.
Law360 | July 11, 2016
Rochester senior environmental health engineer Libby Ford and San Francisco Energy & Environmental associate Alison Torbitt co-authored this column discussing the EPA’s national standards for industrial wastewater discharged to local publicly owned treatment works and how they affect breweries.
Environmental Law Alert | 12.18.18
Environmental Law Alert | 10.16.18
Environmental Law Alert | 04.24.18
Energy Alert | 10.25.17
Environment Alert | 08.29.17
Health Care Alert | 07.25.17
Originally presented June 27, 2017 | 07.06.17
Affordable Housing Blog | 07.05.17
06.07.17 | Rochester, NY
11.15.16 | Saratoga Springs, NY
University of Notre Dame, M.S., Environmental Engineering
University of Notre Dame, B.S., Biology, with honors