Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dave Gunn, who lives along Cobus Creek in northwest Elkhart County, worries about the potential impact of a proposed wastewater treatment plan in nearby Michigan (Tim Vandenack/The Elkhart Truth)
Elkhart County residents would have to bring their Cobus Creek concerns to Michigan officials
Posted on March 6, 2014 at 3:46 p.m.

Thursday March 6, 2014

Concerns among Elkhart County residents related to a proposed wastewater treatment plant across the state line in Michigan would probably have to be put to environmental authorities in the neighboring state.


A spokesman from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM, said the regulatory agency here "has very limited authority" in addressing wastewater discharges from other states. A proposed treatment plant southeast of Edwardsburg, Mich., in Ontwa Township would send treated wastewater across the state line into Cobus Creek here in Elkhart County and that's got some here worried.

Ontwa Township officials sent in the paperwork last week requesting a discharge permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, or MDEQ, and IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed said Elkhart County residents would have to bring their concerns to that agency. The permit is required before a plant could be built.

Still, though authority in the matter seemingly rests with MDEQ, Sneed noted that Indiana standards can't be completely overlooked.

Michigan, like any state, Sneed said in an e-mail, "is prohibited from issuing (a discharge) permit that would result in violation of another state's water quality standards."

One of the local worries is that discharge from Ontwa Township would raise the temperature of Cobus Creek, a coldwater stream, harming the trout population in the waterway. Sneed noted that Indiana has guidelines protecting coldwater species, so presumably the Indiana standards would have to be taken into account by Michigan authorities.

Tim Vandenack is a reporter at the Elkhart Truth newspaper. Reach him at tvandenack@elkharttruth.com or 574-296-5884. Visit him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack.