Watersheds Threatened By Storm Water
Published November 3rd, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency
and states in the Great Lakes region are failing to enforce
storm water runoff regulations, leading to threats to
wildlife habitat in the lakes’ watersheds, an environmental
group said in a new report.
The report released by the Environmental Integrity Project,
a nonprofit advocacy group, said that state agencies in
the half-dozen states it reviewed can’t inspect even a
fraction of the 20,000 storm water permits for industrial
and construction sites.
The report claims runoff from those sites - including
heavy metals, bacteria and other pollutants - is making
its way into the regions’ streams and other waterways.
When it gets there, said Ilan Levin, counsel for the EIP,
the runoff is having a “devastating impact on wildlife.”
The group blames the problem on insufficient funding
and staffing at state agencies in Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio - the states examined
in the report.
The report claims that when the state and the EPA issue
storm water permits, they are neglecting the Clean Water
Act’s anti-degradation requirements aimed at preventing
environmental damage to lakes, streams and wetlands.
The group also claims that states and federal environment
officials are “essentially turning a blind eye to increased
pollution loading in both impaired and pristine watersheds.”
Barbara Skoglund, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Pollution
Control Agency, said the state is finalizing new rules
that address the anti-degradation requirements.
As for the report’s finding that only a fraction of the
permits are inspected, she said, “There are no state or
federal requirements that everyone who has a permit has
to get an inspection.”