There is a Federal Challenge for Water Quality Protections underway. On September 11, 2000, Cedar Creek Wildlife Project, Inc., joined Save the Dunes Conservation Fund, the Hoosier Environmental Council, the Indiana Division, Izaak Walton League and Citizens Action Coaltion in filing a 60-day notice of intent to sue for protection of Indiana's waters. Attorneys Michael Mullett and June Lyle of Indianapolis represent out groups in filing this Clean Water Act action against the U.S. Environmental Protection agency, Indiana's Governor Frank O'Bannon, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and its Commissioner, Loi Kaplan.
A major contention is that the state failed to submit water quality standard changes of state Senate Enrolled Act 431 to the EPA for approval before going ahead with weakening provisions. Among waterways that could be degraded under SEA 431 (now Indiana's PL 140-2000) are Cedar Creek, Wildcat Creek, Blue River and Lake Michigan and designated "Exceptional Use" waters classified to prohibit downgrading.
EPA's responsibility to approve or disapprove -- they have done neither -- is a federal Clean Water Act "non-discretionary" legal requirement. Nor has the state bothered to submit the legislation or its affected regulations for EPA approval.
Recent federal clarification of the "Alaska Rule" requires all water quality stand changes be approved by EPA before they are effective.
Another major contention of the environmental groups' action is the suspension of rules governing standards to be met by cities and towns (106 communities including Auburn and Ft. Wayne) with combined stormwater and sewerage overflows, allowing raw sewage to enter our watersheds. Please note the following issue which further challenges the sewage handling capacity of the city of Fort Wayne and protection of our waters downstream. Stay tuned for action. (To read news stories about the environmental groups' challenge to PL 140-2000 click here.)
CCWP and 16 neighboring individuals filed permit objections with the Indiana office of administrative adjudication. Objections included: crossing properties by line conveyance within close proximity to drinking water wells; no provisions fortap-in service; obstruction to property access; vegetation damage; and stormwater disruption. Filed objections also challenged line crossings of designated natural and mitigated wetlands and also challenged the certification of the Sewer District and the city of Fort Wayne to convey and treat the sewage load.
Among Fort Wayne deficiencies are a 1985 expired permit to discharge; a 1996 EPA Consent Order that is in non-compliance, and no accepted plan of action to correct 54 combined sewer overflows and an undisclosed number of storm sewer overflows into our waters. Hearing is December 11, 2000.