Hammond Reaches Agreement on EPA Violations

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Work to restore the Grand Calumet River has been ongoing for more than 20 years. (photo courtesy U.S. EPA) Work to restore the Grand Calumet River has been ongoing for more than 20 years. (photo courtesy U.S. EPA)

The Hammond Sanitary District says it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management regarding combined sewer overflows. The district says the agreement will improve the water quality of the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet rivers.

The district adds the consent decree approved by the Board of Sanitary Commissioners will also have significant environmental benefits for residents of Hammond and Munster. As part of the deal, the HSD will have more than 18 years to make the necessary capital improvements to reduce combined sewer overflows, which the district says will save ratepayers from dramatic rate increases.

"We're pleased with how hard the Hammond Sanitary District fought over the past five years to get the best deal possible for our customers and respective communities," said Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott. "We learned lessons from other Indiana communities to make sure that we understand what projects would be required and ensure we had the maximum reasonable time possible to construct them." 

The consent decree states the district must finalize a plan by mid-2018 to implement construction projects that aim to prevent more than one billion gallons of combined sanitary and stormwater from discharging into the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet rivers each year. The district says the largest project in the plan was completed in late 2014, which was the addition of a large basin.

This is the second agreement reached in northwest Indiana related to violations of the Clean Water Act. Last month, the city of Gary reached a deal with the EPA to take action to combat sewer overflows into the same waterways.

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