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City agrees to comply with Clean Water Act

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Faced with hefty fines of more than $27,000 a day for violating the federal Clean Water Act, the city of Jeffersonville has reached a settlement with the federal and Indiana governments, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The settlement resolved long-standing problems with sewer overflows into the Ohio River and local streams.

The United States filed a suit simultaneously with the consent decree, alleging the city was discharging more pollution into local waterways than allowed by existing permits. In the suit, the U.S. was seeking between $27,500 and $37,500 per day for each violation of the CWA. The state was seeking $25,000 per day for each violation.

The suit and consent decree come as a result of violations to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued to the city in 1999 and 2006. Jeffersonville's sewer system would carry overflow into streams and rivers when swollen with heavy rain or melted snow. Jeffersonville, the Department of Justice, the EPA, Indiana Attorney General, and state and federal governments have been negotiating a settlement for several years after the EPA and Indiana Department of Environmental Management investigated Jeffersonville.

In the decree, Jeffersonville agreed to develop and implement a long-term plan to prevent discharges of untreated wastewater by April 1, 2010. The city has until 2020 or 2025 to eliminate overflows to the Ohio River where feasible, as well as update and improve its sewer systems.

Jeffersonville agreed to pay a $49,500 civil penalty to the U.S. and $8,250 to the state. The state reduced its civil penalty from $82,500 provided the city completes supplemental environmental projects.

The total costs to upgrade the systems are estimated between $100 million and $150 million.

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public-comment period and approval by the federal court. The decree can be found on the Department of Justice's Web site.

Jeffersonville took the initiative to try to fix the sewer-overflow problems, and was extremely cooperative throughout the negotiation process and negotiated in good faith, said Indiana Attorney General spokesperson Bryan Corbin.

The consent decree and suit were filed Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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