The water quality advocacy group Quad Cities Waterkeeper filed a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit this week challenging the dumping of large quantities of concrete chunks and other construction waste into the Green River and the unpermitted dredging of sand from the river.
The Green River provides valuable habitat for a diversity of fish, wildlife and migratory birds and is an important tributary to the Rock River. Prairie Rivers Network has also filed a notice of intent to sue under the Clean Water Act.
The lawsuit names concrete hauler Ballegeer Trucking, its owner Dave Ballegeer and Francis Ballegeer as defendants in the case and alleges hundreds of days of violations of the Clean Water Act, each of which is punishable by a fine of up to $37,500 per day.
“They took a beautiful river and buried it in concrete,” says Waterkeeper Art Norris, who leads Quad Cities Riverkeeper’s efforts in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. “It’s a sad day when we cannot count on the Army Corps or Illinois EPA to protect the public’s rivers from the type of damage we see in this case, but if they won’t enforce our river protection laws then we will.”
Attorney Kim Knowles with Prairie Rivers agrees. “If it was legal to dump concrete into our rivers then no river in Illinois would be safe. The concrete dumping in this case not only harms fish and wildlife, but is a real public safety threat since it has metal rebar sticking out of the concrete that puts anyone who uses the river at risk.”
Kevin Cassidy, lead attorney in the case who works for the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center, says the case involves issues that have national significance. “We are involved in the case because it is important not just for the Green River, but for every river in the United States. There are very few things someone can do to a river that have a bigger impact than covering it in concrete. This is exactly the type of pollution Congress said was illegal 40 years ago when it passed the Clean Water Act.”
Longtime Clean Water Act attorney Albert Ettinger of Illinois is the local counsel on the case.