792 F.3d 821 (7th Cir. 2015), 14-1776, United States v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Docket Nº:14-1776, 14-1777
Citation:792 F.3d 821
Opinion Judge:Easterbrook, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. METROPOLITAN WATER RECLAMATION DISTRICT OF GREATER CHICAGO, Defendant-Appellee and ALLIANCE FOR THE GREAT LAKES, et al., Intervening Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Attorney:For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-1776): Steven David Ellis, Department of Justice, Enviromental Enforcement Section, Washington, DC; Katherine Wade Hazard, Attorney, Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division, Washington, DC; Kurt Lindland, Attorney, Off...
Judge Panel:Before EASTERBROOK, KANNE, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 09, 2015
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 821

792 F.3d 821 (7th Cir. 2015)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiffs-Appellees, and ALLIANCE FOR THE GREAT LAKES, et al., Intervening Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

METROPOLITAN WATER RECLAMATION DISTRICT OF GREATER CHICAGO, Defendant-Appellee

Nos. 14-1776 & 14-1777

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 9, 2015

Argued February 12, 2015

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 11 C 8859 -- George M. Marovich, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-1776): Steven David Ellis, Department of Justice, Enviromental Enforcement Section, Washington, DC; Katherine Wade Hazard, Attorney, Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division, Washington, DC; Kurt Lindland, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For State of Illinois, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-1776): Carl J. Elitz, Attorney, Office of The Attorney General, Civil Appeals Division, Chicago, IL.

For Alliance For The Great Lakes, Intervenor - Appellant (14-1776): Gabrielle Sigel, Attorney, Jenner & Block Llp, Chicago, IL.

For Environmental Law And Policy Center, Intervenor - Appellant (14-1776): Jessica Dexter, Attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Chicago, IL.

For Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Defendant - Appellee (14-1776): Richard S. Davis, Beveridge & Diamond, Washington, DC; Ronald M. Hill, Attorney, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Chicago, IL; Benjamin F. Wilson, Attorney, Beveridge & Diamond, Washington, DC.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-1777): Katherine Wade Hazard, Attorney, Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division, Washington, DC; Kurt Lindland, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL; Catherine B. Rojko, Attorney, Department of Justice, Enviromental Enforcement Section, Washington, DC.

For State of Illinois, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-1777): Carl J. Elitz, Attorney, Office of The Attorney General, Civil Appeals Division, Chicago, IL.

For Natural Resources Defense Council, Intervenor - Appellant (14-1777): Douglas B. Sanders, Attorney, David P. Hackett, Attorney, Michael C. McCutcheon, Attorney, Baker & Mckenzie Llp, Chicago, IL; Ann Alexander, Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council, Chicago, IL.

For Sierra Club, Intervenor - Appellant (14-1777): Albert E. Ettinger, Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Prairie Rivers Network, Intervenor - Appellant (14-1777): Albert E. Ettinger, Attorney, Chicago, IL; Kim A. Knowles, Attorney, Prairie Rivers Network, Champaign, IL.

For Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Defendant - Appellee (14-1777): Ronald M. Hill, Attorney, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Chicago, IL; Benjamin F. Wilson, Attorney, Beveridge & Diamond, Washington, DC.

Before EASTERBROOK, KANNE, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Easterbrook, Circuit Judge.

So much of the Chicago metropolitan area is covered with concrete or other impermeable surfaces that the remaining ground cannot absorb the water from heavy rain. The excess goes into a combined stormwater and sewer system, which can overflow and escape through outfalls located on the banks of canals and rivers. In 1975 the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which manages sewage control (including purification plants), began construction on an ambitious project to impound water until it can be cleaned up and released safely: the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, sometimes called TARP and commonly known as Deep Tunnel.

About 110 miles of large-diameter tunnels, as much as 350 feet underground (hence " deep" tunnel), collect runoff water and sewage during rainfall. But these tunnels, large and extensive as they are, can hold " only" 2.3 billion gallons of water, and heavy or extended rain may exceed that capacity. The plan therefore includes reservoirs, to which the tunnels direct their contents during high-inflow conditions. Two reservoirs, which between them can hold 3.4 billion gallons, are operational today. One of these is scheduled to be replaced later this year by the Thornton Composite Reservoir, which can accommodate 4.8 billion gallons from TARP. (This reservoir can hold 7.9 billion gallons, but 3.1 billion gallons of that capacity is for overflow from Thorn Creek and is not counted as part of the Deep Tunnel system.) The final piece of the system, the McCook Reservoir, is scheduled for completion in 2029 with a capacity of 10 billion gallons (and an interim capacity of 3.5 billion gallons by 2017). Deep Tunnel's final capacity will be 17.5 billion gallons.

The Thornton and McCook reservoirs have taken a long time to build because both will occupy worked-out limestone quarries. The demand for limestone, which has declined in recent years, affects the date of completion. (Paying to have limestone dug up in advance of demand from building and roadwork projects not only would be expensive but also would require the acquisition of land on which to dump huge piles of limestone, which would be unsightly and also create environmental problems as...

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