Champaign agrees to corrective action by the Illinois EPA


The Champaign City Council passed a Compliance Agreement with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for a storm water discharge at the Construction site located at 200 Carriage Center Court.

By Walbert Castillo

In an ongoing dispute due to storm water discharge into the sewage pipes at a local construction site in Champaign in July, The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is now requiring the city of Champaign to undergo a series of corrective actions.

The city council unanimously approved a Compliance Commitment Agreement with the Illinois EPA at its Nov. 4 meeting, which requires the city to monitor the site weekly and after significant rainfall, as well as make revisions to its Erosion Control Plan.

Heavy rainfall in July, which rose as high as seven inches, caused the soil from the construction site at 200 Carriage Center Court to flow into the storm sewers of the construction site. The Ford of Champaign and several other car dealership businesses were previously located on the property.

Champaign received a violation citation from the Illinois EPA on July 22, citing water intrusion into the sewage on three occasions: June 11, June 24 and June 30. 

Since the city council granted the construction permits to bulldoze the buildings and redevelop the site, Tom Bruno, deputy mayor and city council member at-large, said IEPA had to find someone responsible for the violation. 

The private developer, engineer and contractor of the construction site as well as the city were held jointly responsible for the storm water discharge by the Illinois EPA, according to the resolution.     

“When we had to accept the guilt from the storm water discharge violation, it was ironic in a sense that was we were already doing what the IEPA told us to,” said Don Gerard, mayor of Champaign. “It’s sort of like a person receiving a ticket for not wearing a seat belt even though the seat belt was on the whole time.”

Although construction workers that were stationed at the site put fabric barriers around the perimeter and covered the sewers with safeguards to prevent debris from flying into the sewers, rainfall still overwhelmed the area, said Bruno.

While the water was not toxic, Bruno said the water flowing into the sewage pipes could eventually find its way to the Mississippi River, which the Illinois EPA does not want to happen since it could then have an affect on other states.

“This was the first time Champaign has ever been cited for something like this before. It’s very unique, I have to say,” said Michael LaDue, district 2. 

Although this was the first occurrence of a storm water discharge, Gerard said this was not the first time they have had a dispute with the Illinois EPA. In 2007, the Illinois EPA issued a permit in regards to storing hazardous waste water at a facility over the Mahomet Aquifer located in east-central Illinois, which provides water for over 800 residents in downstate Illinois, including Champaign. Governor Pat Quinn directed the Illinois EPA to rescind the permit. 

The Illinois EPA could not be reached for comment.

Walbert can be reached at [email protected].