Information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests that a wastewater treatment facility owned by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has a history of violating the Clean Water Act. An EPA permit issued to the facility grants permission to the tribe to discharge treated wastewater into the Bad River if the water meets Clean Water Act and permit-specific standards. Compliance data maintained by the EPAappears to indicate that water discharged from the facility has repeatedly failed to meet the required standards.

In particular, the reports indicate that the tribe has been releasing excessive amounts of E. coli, phosphorous, and suspended solids into Denomonie Creek, which, according to an issued permit, runs into the Bad River.

A 2009 investigative report by the New York Times found hundreds of facilities around the country that were in violation of Clean Water Act standards. No other facility in Wisconsin, according to that report, had more violations of the Clean Water Act than the Bad River Band’s wastewater treatment facility. The report called the facility a polluter and implied that it was contributing to lower water quality.

An environmental regulatory compliance expert who spoke on background after reviewing the EPA data expressed serious concerns about what has taken place at the Bad River Band’s wastewater treatment plant.

"The nature and extent of these water quality violations is troubling.  It’s clear that these violations persisted over a period of years, and were reported to the EPA on a regular basis with no apparent enforcement activity.  The whole situation raises serious questions about the EPA’s oversight of this facility," the expert said.

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