Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) continue to degrade Indiana’s waterways, threaten the health of residents, visitors, and wildlife, and restrict recreational activities. In July, Save the Dunes joined with other organizations to support a citizens’ petition to reduce the occurrence of CSOs in Northwest Indiana and throughout the state. Combined sewer systems collect both sanitary wastewater and storm water. When rain (even in small amounts) overwhelms them, they discharge untreated sewage into rivers and lakes. The untreated sewage contains bacteria and pathogens that are harmful to people’s health, lower water quality, and impair aquatic wildlife.
The petition calls for amendments to improve the regulation of CSOs, in part by requiring that permits for development are issued based on wet weather data, in addition to the dry weather data that is currently used. Since the CSO problems occur during wet weather, dry weather data alone does not portray the conditions that cause the problem and that should be accounted for in determining capacity needs.
Tom Neltner of Improving Kids’ Environment developed the amendment and the petition, which now has over 300 signatures. Just 200 signatures are needed to commence the citizen rulemaking provision of Indiana Law and obtain a hearing before the Water Pollution Control Board on the proposed amendments. The petition was presented at the August 8th meeting of the Water Pollution Control Board. If you are interested in learning more, please visit www.ikecoalition.org and click on the citizen’s petition icon, or contact Save the Dunes at 219-879-3564.