Study: Indiana the worst in U.S. for water pollution

Wabash River (WLFI File Photo)
Wabash River (WLFI File Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A recent study released by an organization that strives to research and help protect the environment said Indiana dumps more pollutants into waterways than any other state. The study on pollution was done by Environment America, which is a state-based organization funded by the public.

According to Environment America, 206 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released into waterways by industrial facilities. The study said more than 17 million pounds of that was in Indiana.

At the local level, West Lafayette Wastewater Treatment is using technology to help keep the Wabash River clean.

“What we do, day in and day out, everyday, everything that goes down the drain in West Lafayette comes here for us to basically clean it up,” Utility Director Dave Henderson said.

He defined the term wastewater as anything that goes into drains from toilets, sinks or showers. Henderson said about three billion gallons of water is treated at the plant each year.

“A normal day, we’ll have over eight million gallons of wastewater come through the plant. Stormwater also comes in. So, during a heavy rain event we could, you know, see twice that much come in here,” said Henderson.

Henderson said they test the water daily. On average, they remove 97 to 99.5 percent of the waste before the water goes into the Wabash River. He said the treatment facility plans on expanding to help make the water even cleaner and reduce the amount of sewer overflow.

“There is sanitary waste in it, and we want to reduce those as much as possible,” said Henderson. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve done a number of projects to reduce how often and how much combination sewage overflows during rains.”

Henderson said the water discharging from the wastewater plant is most of the time cleaner than the water currently in the Wabash River.

“But day in and day out, we do a very good job of cleaning the water,” he said.

It’s a job that Henderson hopes will keep the Wabash River safe. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language, off topic, or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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