Zoeller reaches agreement with city over water dispute

Ashley Stinnett Sep. 18, 2009, 6:17pm

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the city of Jefferson has reached an agreement after the city allegedly violated the Federal Clean Water Act.

The attorney general's office along with the state's department of environmental management entered into a consent decree with the city of Jefferson after an investigation revealed the city's sewer lines carry both household wastewater and storm water runoff.

When swollen with heavy rain or melted snow, combined sewers can overflow, polluting streams and rivers with waste and bacteria, according to Zoeller.

Under the terms of the settlement, the city must have a comprehensive correction plan must be in place by April 1, 2010.

The city will have several more years to complete sewer improvements to prevent overflows, according to Zoeller.

The city has also agreed to pay the state a civil penalty of $82,500.

"This was not an easy settlement to reach, but the agreement is fair to all sides. It has been very frustrating to all that wastewater flowed into the Ohio River and nearby streams after heavy rains because of aging infrastructure inadequate to the capacity," Zoeller said.

"Violations of the Clean Water Act were all too frequent. The city is agreeing to uphold its environmental responsibilities, and ultimately the public (those who live and work near the Ohio River) will in the long run benefit from these improvements," he said.

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