Last year an Ohio River watchdog had plans to get rid of its pollution control standards for its eight member states, including Indiana. But those plans have changed.
Decades before the Clean Water Act, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission or ORSANCO formed to make sure the eight states along the river keep it clean.
ORSANCO can set limits for pollutants in the river that are more stringent than its member states. But in January 2018, the commission questioned if its own pollution standards were redundant with state and federal ones.
After hearing more than 5,000 public comments urging ORSANCO not to nix its pollution standards, the commission has now come up with a compromise.
“Really listened to the public comments but also maintained the desire to meet the goals of the commission,” says ORSANCO executive director Richard Harrison.
Jason Flickner of the environmental group the Lower Ohio River Waterkeeper says the fact that ORSANCO’s standards aren’t going away is a big victory.
But he says the new plan also allows states that don’t implement ORSANCO’s pollution limits — like Kentucky and Illinois — to show how they will still protect the Ohio River.
“How enforceable is ORSANCO’s compact to these states that decide not to utilize those standards?” Flickner says.
The executive director of ORSANCO says it will still be able to notify state enforcement agencies about pollution in the river. The commission is planning to hold a 45-day public comment period on its new plan, but hasn’t set a date for that yet.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.