Water Quality

Hoosier Riverwatch Water Testing
Friends of Sugar Creek is working to establish an extensive water quality monitoring program. The first step in this process is recruiting volunteers and identifying testing sites for the Hoosier Riverwatch Program.

For almost fifteen years, this state-sponsored program has offered water testing training to individuals interested in the health of their local streams. We invite you to attend one of the training workshops, which are offered throughout the year at several different locations. Contact Nathan Mullendore to discuss selecting a testing site. He can be reached at nathan@friendsofsugarcreek.org. Workshop dates are listed at the Riverwatch Events page

FSC official reply on Mercury issue--read below for more info

Dear Pamela,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Friends of Sugar Creek Inc., a non-profit group whose mission is to protect, restore, and promote appreciation of the Sugar Creek watershed in central Indiana. You have the ability to help us greatly in this mission through your work with the Indiana Air Pollution Control Board. On October 3 you will have the opportunity to set a higher environmental standard for our great state as you consider the mercury utility rule. The Friends of Sugar Creek would like to see Indiana surpass federal mercury emission standards and take a proactive stand against this potentially lethal problem.

As you well know mercury is a potent neurotoxin that has horribly devastating effects on the development of the fetus, infant, and young child. The Friends of Sugar Creek want to weigh in on this important issue because exposure to mercury, especially methylmercury, comes primarily from the consumption of contaminated fish. We strive as an organization to make Sugar Creek safe for all those who want to use it. Many stretches of the creek are so contaminated that they have been deemed unsafe for fish consumption. One of the most prominent reasons for this is mercury pollution.

The time has come to hold utility companies to a higher standard. The technology is available to reduce mercury emissions, now all we need is the political will to do so. It has come to our attention that there is a compromise on the table to move the final compliance deadline to 2015 and reduce total emissions by 72%. For the sake of our state’s children and wild places we hope that you will vote in favor of this option. It’s time to take a stand for the environment.

Thank you,

Zach Cain
President, Friends of Sugar Creek Inc.


Action needed on IDEM Utility Mercury Rule Now!

On Wednesday, October 3, the Indiana Air Pollution Control Board will take final action on a rule to control emissions of mercury from Indiana?s coal-fired power plants.
IDEM is asking the board to adopt the rule issued by the US EPA (the Clean Air Mercury Rule, or CAMR), which requires a 66 percent reduction in mercury emissions. This rule requires less reduction than utilities are reasonably able to make and gives them a schedule that could stretch out to 2025 to do it. We believe utilities can and should do more.
The Hoosier Environmental Council advocates a 90% reduction in uncontrolled mercury emissions by 2010, a standard that is becoming ever more achievable as technology develops.
In May, Improving Kids? Environment proposed a middle ground on both the emission reduction target and the timetable for compliance and would result in thousands fewer pounds of mercury released to the environment.
Now is the time for you to contact members of the Air Pollution Control Board to urge them to adopt a rule that will provide more public health protection to Hoosiers and our neighbors downwind. They are hearing from the utilities?they need to hear from the rest of us. Their email addresses are below.

Here?s why you should care about the mercury rule:

Mercury is affecting Hoosiers? health

Mercury is a known human toxin that is particularly damaging to the unborn fetus and young children. Studies have shown that young children exposed to mercury from eating fish have poorer test scores in attention, memory and language.
The most common way Hoosiers are exposed to mercury is by eating contaminated fish. Mercury accumulates in fish and the problem worsens as you go up the food chain. It all begins with mercury from air emissions deposited into lakes and streams.
Hoosiers like to fish and to eat what they catch. In 1996, the US Fish and Wildlife Service found that 854,000 Hoosiers fished. A 1999 Purdue survey of Indiana anglers found that 50.7% ate 1-3 meals per month of locally caught fish, and 14.2% ate at least one meal per week.
The American Medical Association, the American Society of Pediatrics, and the American Public Health Association have all stated that the federal rule does not do enough to protect Americans from mercury.

Indiana power plants are putting mercury into Indiana?s environment and reducing emissions will make a difference

Emissions from coal-fired power plants are by far the biggest source of mercury emissions in Indiana?5000 pounds per year. Indiana has the fourth highest mercury emissions in the country (total U.S. emissions are approximately 96,000 pounds per year).
Because mercury does not biodegrade, every pound of mercury emitted will stay in the environment forever
Utilities claim reducing emissions at Indiana plants will make no difference in the amount of mercury in Indiana?s environment. Not true. Recent U.S. EPA studies demonstrate that a significant amount of mercury from Indiana?s power plants deposits within 50 miles of the plant. According to one study, at the point of highest mercury deposition in Indiana, 56.7% came from sources within Indiana and, of that, 93.1% came from the nearby power plant.
Studies show that reductions in mercury air emissions lead to reductions in mercury in the amount of mercury that gets into the food within a few years.

Control technology is available and at a reasonable cost

Technology is commercially available now to reduce mercury emissions at Indiana power plants?some utilities are already planning to install it.
The cost is reasonable. The Indiana State Utility Forecasting Group at Purdue predicts that electricity rates would be only 2-3% higher (or $1.50 on the average monthly household electricity bill). With that increase, Indiana electricity rates would still be well below the national average. The IKE compromise would cost substantially less than this.
21 states have adopted or are working on rules that will require more mercury reduction than the federal rule, including coal-producing states such as Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Adopting a 90% mercury rule would prevent approximately 20,000 pounds of mercury from entering the environment compared to the federal rule. Adopting a compromise, such as that proposed by IKE, would prevent approximately 10,000 pounds.

Here?s a comparison of the three proposals the Board has considered:

Federal Rule
HEC Proposal
IKE Compromise

Reduction target
14% Phase 1

66% Phase 2

14% Phase 1

75% Phase 2

Compliance deadline
2010 Phase 1

2018 Phase 2 (banking may extend final compliance until 2025)

2010 Phase 1

2015 Phase 2

Estimated number of pounds emitted 2010-2025