Study: Indiana the worst in U.S. for water pollution

Wabash River photo courtesy WLFI

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A recent study released by an organization that strives to research and help protect the environment said Indiana dumps more pollutants into waterways than any other state. The study on pollution was done by Environment America, which is a state-based organization funded by the public.

According to Environment America, 206 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released into waterways by industrial facilities. The study said more than 17 million pounds of that was in Indiana.

At the local level, West Lafayette Wastewater Treatment is using technology to help keep the Wabash River clean.

“What we do, day in and day out, everyday, everything that goes down the drain in West Lafayette comes here for us to basically clean it up,” said Utility Director Dave Henderson.

Henderson defined the term “wastewater” as anything that goes into drains from toilets, sinks or showers. He said about three billion gallons of water is treated at the plant each year.

“A normal day, we’ll have over eight million gallons of wastewater come through the plant. Stormwater also comes in. So, during a heavy rain event we could, you know, see twice that much come in here,” said Henderson.

Henderson said they test the water daily. On average, they remove 97 to 99.5 percent of the waste before the water goes into the Wabash River. He said the treatment facility plans on expanding to help make the water even cleaner and reduce the amount of sewer overflow.

“There is sanitary waste in it and we want to reduce those as much as possible over the last 20 years. We’ve done a number of projects to reduce how often and how much combination sewage overflows during rains,” said Henderson.

Henderson said the water discharging from the wastewater plant is most of the time cleaner than the water currently in the Wabash River.

“But, day in and day out, we do a very good job of cleaning the water,” said Henderson.

A job that Henderson hopes will keep the Wabash River safe.

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