Wisconsin

EPA Data Points to Massive Clean Water Act Violations by Bad River Chippewa

Policy

MILWAUKEE – A survey of EPA data conducted by Media Trackers points to significant Clean Water Act violations on the part of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. EPA officials confirmed to Media Trackers that a wastewater treatment facility operated by the Bad River Band, and permitted to discharge treated wastewater into the Bad River, has a long history of violating the Clean Water Act.

A New York Times investigative study in 2009 found that the top violator of the Clean Water Act in Wisconsin was the Bad River Band’s wastewater treatment facility.

An EPA-issued permit to the wastewater treatment plant specifies pollutant levels that must be adhered to in order for the facility to comply with the Clean Water Act. At times the violation of this permit has become severe enough that the EPA designated certain discharges of pollutants to be “significant non-compliance.” Violations center on E. coli, phosphate, and suspended solids discharge levels.

E. coli levels in wastewater pumped by the Bad River Band into the ecosystem have run as high as 5,400% in excess of EPA mandated levels. Phosphate discharges have been has high as 5 times the allowable limit, and suspended solids discharges have also exceeded permitted limits.

“The actions of the Bad River Band undermine their outspoken concern about clean water in northern Wisconsin,” said Brian Sikma, communications director for Media Trackers. “Throughout recent policy debates, the Bad River Band has said that the water of the north is essential to their way of live. If that is true, then they need to explain why they are repeatedly violating EPA standards and discharging excessive levels of pollutants upstream from their wild rice beds.”

Reporters and media outlets interested in this story may review EPA documents and links to EPA reports on the Media Trackers website. As well, perspective from the other side might possibly be obtained at a Native American-themed protests about clean water taking place in Madison this afternoon.

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