The manager of the Bad River Band’s wastewater treatment facility in Odanah, Wisconsin says that years of neglect and lack of communication contributed to the facility’s flagrant and ongoing violation of EPA regulations. Patrick Hunt, who has been managing the plant for about 2 and a half-years, admits that the violations are still ongoing and blames his predecessor managers for the failures.

EPA data uncovered by Media Trackers shows that the facility continues to be out of compliance with Clean Water Act limits on pollutant discharges into the Bad River. At times, E. coli levels exceeded 5,400% of what is allowable and phosphate levels were 3 to 5 times what they should have been according to EPA permits. E. coli is a bacteria that comes from human or animal waste or biomass. According to an EPA study, the presence of E. coli "in drinking water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination."

"About 2.5 years ago I started here and inherited a treatment facility and water and sewer system that had been for the most part ignored for many years," Hunt told Media Trackers. He says since his start he has struggled "to repair all the broken pieces."...

The Bad River Band has been outspoken about the importance of clean water in northern Wisconsin. Chairman Mike Wiggins, speaking in the context of the debate over a proposed iron ore mine, said that if the mine led to pollution of the water it would be "genocide" for the Bad River Band. Asked by Media Trackers about the EPA regulation and Clean Water Act violations at the wastewater treatment facility owned by the band on their reservation, Wiggins refused to comment.


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