Waterkeeper News: Quad Cities Waterkeeper settles Clean Water enforcement case against Milan polluter

Editor’s note: Art Norris is the Quad Cities Waterkeeper (QCW). He looks after 150 miles of the Mississippi River and about 100 miles of the lower Rock River. The Rock River Times’ Editor & Publisher Frank Schier is the vice president of the QCW Board of Directors.

By Art Norris
Quad Cities Waterkeeper

PORT BYRON—Hello, team! We have very good news! Quad Cities Waterkeeper (QCW) announced today a settlement agreement in a Clean Water Act “citizen suit” against Nelevanko Enterprise, Inc., the owner of Paradise Manor Mobile Home Park in Milan, Ill. QCW had alleged that Paradise Manor had violated the federal Clean Water Act by discharging ammonia and bacteria, among other pollutants, into Case Creek and the Rock River in excess of its permit limits.

QCW’s threat of litigation prompted Paradise Manor to take steps to improve the function of its wastewater treatment system.

In the settlement agreement, Paradise Manor agreed to make mitigation payments in lieu of civil penalties; funding will be provided to River Action, Quad Cities Natural Area Guardians, and the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels to support their efforts to improve water quality and protect natural habitat in the Rock River basin.

We applaud Paradise Manor’s proactive response to our citizen suit, and are confident that the lower Rock River will benefit from today’s settlement. The steps taken by the company should prevent future violations, and the mitigation funds will support three outstanding local conservation organizations.

QCW also sent Clean Water Act notice letters in October to three other Rock River polluters:

 Spectrum Preferred Meats (Mt. Morris, Ogle County)—a meat processor that had hundreds of violations of the ammonia, total suspended solids, and total dissolved solids limitations in its discharge permit since 2005;

 Torkelson Cheese Company (Lena, Stephenson County)—a cheese processor with many violations of its ammonia, fecal coliform, total suspended solids, and other pollutants in the past several years, despite IEPA enforcement in 2006; and

 Village of Mt. Morris Wastewater Treatment Plant (Mt. Morris, Ogle County)—a municipal wastewater treatment facility that has regularly exceeded the ammonia, total suspended solids, and biochemical oxygen demand limitations in its permit.

These three Clean Water Act violators sought out the protection of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), and on Dec. 9, the state filed its own civil enforcement actions against them for the same violations alleged in QCW’s notice letters.

Although IEPA ignored these polluters for years, we’re pleased the state is finally taking enforcement action. The Clean Water Act requires citizens to give an alleged violator 60 days’ notice of its intent to file suit, and the state or U.S. EPA may step in to enforce the permit during that time.

We will be tracking the IEPA’s enforcement actions to be sure IEPA seeks appropriate civil penalties and requires the facilities to comply with the law.

Quad Cities Waterkeeper is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international environmental organization with nearly 200 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide. The Waterkeeper Alliance strives to make our waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable through grassroots advocacy.

We are still asking for year-end, tax-deductible donations for our patrol boat program, which is critical to Waterkeeper’s work and unique in the role it serves on the Mississippi and Rock rivers. The mission of QCW is to protect these rivers and their tributaries by enforcing environmental laws and educating the public.

You can see by these four enforcement actions that the QCW does good work. Help us help you and us to get out on the water to protect our watersheds by providing for the purchase of a nonpolluting motor for our new patrol boat. Please send a tax-deductible contribution to:

Quad Cities Waterkeeper

101 Main St., P.O. Box 67

Port Byron, IL 61275

(309) 721-1800

Please join your Quad Cities Waterkeeper in stopping any more damage from occurring to our rivers. Go to the QCW website and join up. Together we can improve many qualities of our tomorrows.

Please  e-mail the Waterkeeper or visit our website:  quadcitieswaterkeeper@gmail.com and quadcitieswaterkeeperuppermississippi.org/.

From the Dec. 15-21, 2010 issue

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