I was moved to create this site because I wanted to make a difference and I really didn't know how. I had thought of it a long time and then I found that we were going to de-list 800 Indiana stream segments from the Impaired list.
They are doing this because they are no longer going to use fish contamination as a gauge of water quality. Instead they are just going to delist them because they don't know.
To me this is a huge step backwards.
Here is the complete press release I got.
Indiana Seeks to De-List Contaminated Waters
Alliance for the Great Lakes, January 27 2008
Indiana proposes to relax its criteria for assessing mercury levels in fish.
Indiana seeks to remove hundreds of mercury and PCB-tainted waterways from a statewide list of impaired waters -- including several Lake Michigan tributaries – in a move to free the state of a federal mandate to restore them.
Using new methodology, Indiana's Department of Environmental Management proposes to delete more than 800 stream and river segments from the list, even as state regulators warn the public that contamination makes fish from those waters unsafe to eat.
The proposed methodology would no longer determine a waterway's impairment based on the existence of fish consumption advisories, a measure the U.S. EPA has determined meets the intent of the federal Clean Water Act.
"The agency's decision to exclude water bodies that are impaired as a result of pollution from mercury or PCBs violates the Clean Water Act," said Lyman Welch, Alliance water quality manager.
The change leaves Indiana with no data on mercury and PCB contamination levels for many of the waters in question. As those waters would no longer be defined as impaired, the state wouldn't be required to develop plans to restore them.
The agency also proposes a less stringent criteria for assessing mercury concentrations in fish than is used by its sister agency, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
IDEM says the difference results from the fact that INDR considers at-risk populations – which include women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or plan to have children, and children ages 15 or younger -- in its assumptions about fish consumption rates and body weight.
"It is not clear why human health under the revised methodology should be protected at a lower level," the Alliance states in comments prepared for state regulators. "IDEM should explain why its new water quality standard for mercury in fish tissue should not protect these groups of people."
The Clean Water Act requires all states to update their impaired water lists every two years, and to develop "Total Maximum Daily Load" plans (TMDLs) for improving water quality in waters that fall short of the standards.
The Alliance is inviting groups throughout the state to sign onto its comment letter to the IDEM. The comments urge that:
--Indiana develop TMDLs or specify alternative measures to restore waters impaired by mercury or PCBs.
--Impaired waters not be de-listed simply because IDEM lacks data using new methods for evaluating contamination.
--Indiana's new method for evaluating water impairment from fish tissue data not be less protective for mercury and PCB pollution.
Indiana must receive all public comments on its impaired water list by Jan. 31. More information on Indiana's proposal can be found on IDEM's website at: Click here for proposal
Does anybody know about this? What is going to happen next?