IBJNews

EPA fines Crawfordsville over Sugar Creek pollution

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Crawfordsville will pay $96,000 in environmental fines because a city-owned wastewater treatment plant was putting too much copper into a creek, according to a federal court filing in Indianapolis.

The fine, which is part of a settlement filed Dec. 24, wraps up a federal investigation spurred from years of problems at the facility. The city already made several changes at the plant, including handing over management to a private contractor.

The plant sits 300 feet upstream from the popular fishing and canoeing destination Sugar Creek, which runs 93 miles through central Indiana, including two state parks. The city, for years, was not complying with its environmental permits and was not adhering to previous warnings, regulators say.
 
The fines are relatively steep by environmental regulators’ standards. But Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton spoke of them with a sense of relief because of the extent of problems.

“The penalty could have been millions and millions of dollars,” Barton said. “The fact that we ended up where we are is a very good sign that we’re doing the right things [today].”

On “numerous occasions,” the facility put more copper in the water than what its environmental permits allowed, according to the filing with the U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana.

The city did not “maintain in good working order and efficiently operate” the facility in order to minimize pollution, documents say. After a 2009 visit, inspectors noted the lack of a proper filter, 6 to 12 inches of solids at the bottom of a disinfection chamber, algae-covered equipment, and other issues.

The plant also did not adequately monitor or record pollution, court documents say.

Permits mandate the facility cannot intentionally take samples and test for copper at certain times simply to avoid showing pollution levels that would otherwise be higher at other times.

Staff, however, collected samples on Sundays, when the plant handled less sewage because most businesses were closed and students at nearby Wabash College were gone, the filing says.

Since March 2007, staff monitored levels of E. coli, ammonia-nitrogen and other health risks five days per week, not seven like they were supposed to, the filing says.

The EPA had prodded the city to fix issues at the plant since the 1990s, city officials told IBJ.

Barton, who learned about the investigation about two months after taking office in 2012, fired some of the employees. The city hired an engineering firm and a management firm to bring the plant into compliance and run it.

Most of the changes have involved operations and processes, with no need for major capital expenses, Barton said.

The city will pay the $96,000 fine by drawing from the utility’s capital budget. The city will not use customer rates to pay the penalty, he said.

Sugar Creek originates north of Indianapolis in Tipton County and runs southwest through parts of Boone County, Montgomery County, Shades State Park and Turkey Run State Park before merging with the Wabash River near Montezuma in Parke County. Crawfordsville is the only large community along the creek.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

  4. Send them back NOW.

  5. deport now

ADVERTISEMENT