The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago is being sued by Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan for failing to submit certain data about its water intake procedures to the state’s environmental regulators and other violations of clean water laws.
The Trump property – one of the largest users of the river’s water for cooling purposes – siphons nearly 20 million gallons of water from the Chicago River for use in cooling its HVAC systems, and sends it back into the river at a higher temperature. Due to the amount of water the building takes in daily, federal law requires extensive studies of Chicago River fish populations and the impact of the building’s water intake system. Madigan’s lawsuit alleged Trump Tower failed to submit study results to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) in 2013 as required by law. The federal Clean Water Act regulates cooling water intake structures because they can pull large volumes of fish into a building’s cooling system. Fish and other aquatic organisms can also get trapped against intake screens.
Madigan also says that the property has not renewed its permit to use the water, which expired nearly a year ago.
“Trump Tower continues to take millions of gallons of water from the Chicago River every day without a permit and without any regard to how it may be impacting the river’s ecosystem,” Madigan said. “I filed my lawsuit to make sure Trump Tower cannot continue violating the law.”
The Trump Organization, the real estate firm that owns the property, says Madigan filed the lawsuits for political reasons (via The Hill). “We are disappointed that the Illinois attorney general would choose to file this suit considering such items are generally handled at the administrative level. One can only conclude that this decision was motivated by politics,” the company said.
A Chicago Tribune article reports that the Trump Tower is the only property on the Chicago River regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System that has not submitted the required environmental data.
Madigan also sued Trump Tower in 2012 because developers had failed to get the proper permit for a a new cooling-water intake on the property. The Trump Organization agreed to pay a $46,000 fine and to follow laws in order to stay in compliance.
In June, members of the Sierra Club and Friends of the Chicago River released an 84-page Intent to Sue document, which outlines the history of the building and the alleged violations that have take place since 2008. The document claims that “it does not appear that Trump International has taken any steps to minimize the impact of its intake on fish and other wildlife, although it is taking in more than a thousand times more water than Trump International originally reported to IEPA.”
Trump International’s “longstanding and ongoing non-compliance” have demonstrated that it will continue to violate the law “unless enjoined and given a penalty likely to compel respect for the law,” the document states.