U.S. Water News Online
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- The Idaho Department of
Environmental Quality intends to challenge a court ruling that
nullifies pollution standards for the South Fork Coeur d'Alene River.
The agency has established standards, called total maximum daily
load limits, to regulate the amount of lead, cadmium, and zinc that
can be discharged into the river by mines, sewage plants, and other
users. The standards are required under the federal Clean Water Act.
Silver Valley mining interests Asarco, Coeur Silver Valley Inc.,
and Hecla sued the agency. The mining companies argued that the
standards were unnecessarily stringent and that complying with
federal wastewater discharge permits based on them would cost
millions of dollars.
First District Judge John Luster threw out the new rules Sept. 6,
casting doubt on the state's role in certifying water quality permits
for mining operations in the Silver Valley.
In his ruling, Luster said the state violated its own procedures
by not providing the public adequate opportunity to participate in
the development of the standards.
The department plans to contest Luster's ruling, ``and will seek
reversal by the Idaho Supreme Court to assure the state's continuing
role in protecting the quality of the state's water,'' the department
said in a prepared statement.
The appeal comes at the same time when the state is seeking to
gain a greater role in a massive environmental cleanup of mine waste
pollution in the Coeur d'Alene Basin.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been studying the mine
waste issue in the Coeur d'Alene Basin for years and is expected to
release a cleanup plan in early 2002.
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