Monday, October 24, 2005
The Padelford Boat Company runs popular cruises on the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Recently the Minnesota Pollution control agency determined the company was breaking state law for what it puts into the water. The Pollution Control Agency found Padelford is discharging inadequately treated sewage into a no discharge zone on the Mississippi River.
A veteran river boat operator says he blew the whistle so the public would know. He said, "They should be just outraged that this boat company has been doing this over the years." Documents obtained by reporters show the MPCA found three of the Padelford boats, the Harriet Bishop, the Anson Northrup and the Betsey Northrup have done the dumping. The PCA believes one of the boats has been discharging improperly for up to 16 years. Elise Doucette lead the investigation for the MPCA. She said "The discharge of inadequately treated sewage can reduce water quality." Captain Steve Bowell is the President of the Padelford Company. He wouldn't talk about the PCA's findings on camera, but he did show us how he's already upgraded the Harriet Bishop to meet state standards. It no longer discharges any waste into the river. Bowell insists he didn't do anything wrong and insists he was unaware of the no discharge zone, even though the regulation has been in force since 1977. Doucette countered saying, "Not knowing the regulations is not an excuse." It may not be an excuse, but the MPCA admits to poor communication to boat operators like Bowell. That's one reason why Padelford has until 2007 to finish outfitting all the offending boats with holding tanks for waste. Two years to completely fix the problem. Doucette said, "Our schedule is so that they will become compliant with our state regulations. Reporter John Mason asked, "In two years?" Doucette responded, "In 2 years yes." Mason said, "But in the meantime wastewater inadequately treated sewage is still going in the river? Doucette confirmed that was the case. The man who told the state about the problem thinks that's absurd. He said, "Why the PCA is allowing this to go on and not fine them is absolutely beyond me." The discharge from the Padelford boats was treated with chlorine. As a result of the MPCA investigation, the company will spend more than $120,000 to convert all three boats to zero discharge.