At the Water Pollution Control Board meeting on Wednesday, May 23, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management gave a presentation on the draft 2012 impaired waters list, and explained the reasons why the 2010 list has not yet been finalized.
The impaired waters list is a very long and complicated document. It is required by the Clean Water Act for all states. Indiana combines the impaired waters list (303(d) list) into an Integrated Waters Assessment, which is updated every two years.
What is the controversy? The 2010 list originally had several water bodies listed for toxicity caused by metals. A likely source for much of this contamination is coal, so the Indiana Coal Council and the Indiana Utility Group, along with Alcoa, objected to the ways that IDEM determined the impairments. The coal companies are concerned that the listings could result in tighter permit limits for their water discharges. IDEM legal counsel David Joest, who spent over two decades working as legal counsel for Peabody Coal, the owner of the Bear Run Mine in Sullivan County, sided with the coal interests and the metals-impaired waters were dropped from the list that IDEM sent to the EPA. The EPA has refused to accept the list because of its failure to include these waters and the standoff has carried over to the 2012 list.
You can read the details of this dispute and other problems with the draft list here: http://act.hecweb.org/6869/support-our-comments-on-2012-draft-impaired-waters-list/).
The public comment period ends on May 31st, so please send your comments to IDEM or sign on to comments drafted by the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the Hoosier Environmental Council, and other environmental organizations around the state!