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City of Mishawaka Settlement

(Hammond, Indiana - February 12, 2014) - United States Attorney David Capp and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that the City of Mishawaka, Indiana has agreed to make an estimated $132.1 million worth of improvements to its combined sewer system to completely eliminate overflows of raw sewage to the St. Joseph River during a typical year of rainfall.

Overview of the Municipality

The proposed settlement with the City of Mishawaka, Indiana completes a trio of settlements  that require sewer system improvements in the City of Elkhart and South Bend.  Collectively, these three settlements will result in preventing over 700,000 pounds of pollutants from entering the St. Joseph River watershed each year.

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Mishawaka violated Sections 301 and 309 of the Clean Water Act and specific conditions in its NPDES permit.

Mishawaka’s combined sewer system failed to effectively and sufficiently convey a portion of sanitary sewage and other pollutants to the waste water treatment plants resulting in discharges of untreated sewage to the St. Josephs River.

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Injunctive Relief

Mishawaka will implement significant improvements to its sewer system that will result in the complete elimination of raw sewage discharges during wet weather events into the St. Joseph’s River.  Prior to the settlement, Mishawaka discharged approximately 111 million gallons of raw sewage into the River every year.  The improvements to the sewer system will totally eliminate these discharges. Capital improvements to the Mishawaka system will total $132.1 million and total expenditures for the three communities will total $800 million.

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Pollutants Impacts

Discharges of raw sewage have a significant adverse impact on the health of rivers, streams and lakes which form part of the St. Joseph’s River watershed.  Raw sewage and other pollutants lead to violations of NPDES permits, create sewer overflows in communities and impact the ecology of the water bodies that receive the discharges. Keeping raw sewage and contaminated storm water out of the waters of the United States is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011 to 2014.  The initiative focuses on reducing discharges from sewer overflows by obtaining cities’ commitments to implement timely affordable solutions to these problems, including the increased use of green infrastructure and other innovative approaches.

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

The elimination of discharges of raw sewage from the St. Joseph’s River will result in healthier communities in the water ecology of the River and of lake Michigan as well as result in benefits to downstream communities who use the River for recreation, fishing and as a source of drinking water.  Improvements to the sewer systems in all three communities will result in a total reduction of 1.1 billion gallons of raw sewage from entering the St. Joseph’s River.

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Civil Penalty

The City of Mishawaka will pay a civil penalty of $28,000 for Clean Water Act violations, to be equally divided between the federal government and the State of Indiana.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, is subject to a thirty (30) day public comment period and final judicial approval.  Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For More Information Contact:

Assistant United States Attorney Wayne T. Ault
5400 Federal Plaza, Suite 1500
Hammond, Indiana 46320

Thomas Kenney,  Senior Attorney, EPA
Office of Regional Counsel, Region 5
USEPA 77 West Jackson Blvd (C-14J)
Chicago, IL 60604-3590

Lourdes Bufill, Senior Attorney, EPA
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Water Enforcement Division, USEPA
Washington, DC 20460

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