Big Win against Phosphorus Pollution


We got a very good decision from the Illinois Court of Appeals Friday. The Court overturned an Illinois Pollution Control Board decision that left in place an ill considered decision of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that did not place appropriate limits on phosphorus pollution from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago's phosphorus pollution from its Calumet, O'Brien and Stickney plants. MWRD's pollution has caused algal blooms, nasty invasive plant growth and low dissolved oxygen levels in the North Shore Channel, the Chicago River, the Cal Sag Channel, the Little Calumet River, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Des Plaines River and the Illinois River. The decision can be found at http://illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2016/1stDistrict/1150971.pdf

I was the main author of the briefs in the case but was assisted by Jessica Dexter (ELPC), Cindy Skrukrud (Sierra Club), Ann Alexander (NRDC) and others.

What is needed is a plan for addressing phosphorus and nitrogen pollution that recognizes that the problem will not be addressed overnight but needs serious study and a real effort to use and develop tools to control this form of pollution. MWRD thumping its chest because it "volunteered" to control phosphorus pollution (after we sued it) to an obviously inadequate extent does not cut it. Getting phosphorus down from 20 times too much to 10 times to much and then declaring victory is not the serious approach needed.

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