Media Trackers Exclusive: EPA Data Points to Clean Water Act Violations by Bad River Chippewa

By Brian Sikma
Media Trackers

Information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests that a wastewater treatment facility owned by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has a history of violating the Clean Water Act. An EPA permit issued to the facility grants permission to the tribe to discharge treated wastewater into the Bad River if the water meets Clean Water Act and permit-specific standards. Compliance data maintained by the EPA appears to indicate that water discharged from the facility has repeatedly failed to meet the required standards.

In particular, the reports indicate that the tribe has been releasing excessive amounts of E. coli, phosphorous, and suspended solids into Denomonie Creek, which, according to an issued permit, runs into the Bad River.

Top Lines:

1) E. Coli, which comes from human and animal waste and biomass, has been repeatedly found in excessive amounts in water released by the facility into Denomonie Creek, which runs into the Bad River.

2) Phosphates and suspended solids have also been released in excess quantities by the tribe and at times the EPA has designated the facility in “significant non-compliance” though no official enforcement action appears to have been taken at any time in the last 5 years.

3) A 2009 New York Times study found that the tribe’s facility was the top violator of the Clean Water Act among all wastewater facilities in the state.

4) The tribe has repeatedly made it clear that they have concerns about clean water, though the EPA records show that their own actions may not live up to that rhetoric.

The full story can be read here.