We got word over the weekend that the Spokane Riverkeeper is intervening in the pending TMDL lawsuit brought by Idaho polluter-plaintiffs Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, and the Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board. Recall that the Idaho dischargers filed a complaint in federal district court challenging the dissolved oxygen total maximum daily load (TMDL) issued for the Spokane River.
The litigation, which has cost North Idaho ratepayers and taxpayers more than $800,000 in legal and consulting fees, mostly asks that North Idaho dischargers be subject to the same standards as Washington’s. This is arguably the case already. But regardless of the outcome, the Idaho plaintiffs will still need to install the very same pollution control equipment. Notably, the Idaho dischargers are also participating in discussions of pollution trading — to be premised on the very TMDL they are challenging in Court.
We hear that settlement discussions are scheduled between EPA and the Idaho plaintiffs, and the many other lawyers which are necessarily now involved. The formal intervention will allow the Riverkeeper to participate in the settlement discussions that may – or may not – allow the Idaho dischargers to end their quixotic quest to modify the TMDL to their liking. Then, hopefully, we can get on with the cleanup of the river.