Cedar Rapids Wastewater Permit - DNR Meeting
We had a good showing of concerned citizens last night at City Hall. There were about 50 people in the room, which included representatives from the DNR staff, the Iowa Enviromnental Council, the Sierra Club, Iowa Green Party members, Iowa Fly Fishermen's Association, neighbors that live downstream, and neighbors who let their children wade in the Cedar River at Palisades-Kepler state park. The Sierra Club and The Iowa Environmental Council brought lawyers and other experts who explained in detail how the DNR was not in compliance with the Clean Water Act and EPA standards with the proposed permit.
Cedar Rapids municipal wastewater treatment plant treats wastewater from 5 major industries in the city as well as all the domestic wastewater. Approximately 80% of the water treated is from big industry. The argument goes that if each of these industries had their own separate wastewater treatment permit, the total would add up to what was proposed in the new permit. However, the law has a "no backsliding" provision - you cannot go from cleaner to dirtier water without a compelling reason, which has not been offered in this case.
We need to protect the mussel population at Palisades-Kepler. The mussels, also known as fresh-water clams, are imperiled, and this action would wipe them out.
Fresh water clams require fresh water to survive, which this permit would deprive them of.
A representative from Cargill spoke in favor of the new permit. The manager of the wastewater treatment plant spoke and said that he would like to have a permit.
Big industries, especially publicly traded industries, are always under pressure to make more money. One way to do this is to "externalize" the cost of cleaning up your messes. It's a selfish and narrow understanding of efficiency. If you look at the big picture, clearly it is cheaper to clean up the mess at the source rather than trying to clean ut up after it has been dumped in the river. er and expecting the towns downstream to clean it up.
The DNR has extended the comment period. You can send your comments to:
Courtney Cswercko, NPDES Permits Section
Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources
502 E 9th St
Des Moines, IA 52319
or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org