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Report shows tribe's water-quality issues

As state senators debate a proposed northern Wisconsin mine, a new report says an Indian tribe that fears pollution from the mine has other water-quality problems of its own.

The federal EPA says the Bad River tribe near Ashland has had dozens of water quality violations at its sewage treatment plant. The conservative Media Trackers' group first reported on excess E-coli and phosphorus in the Bad River sewage plant - and it pointed to signs of possible fecal contamination and the harming of aquatic animals.

The New York Times recently said the Bad River had the most EPA water pollution violations from 2004-through-'08, with 241. The plant reportedly keeps running without an EPA permit - and the tribe has not been fined.

Bad River Tribal chairman Mike Wiggins has been one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron-ore mine proposed for the area, saying it would have hard time following the tribe's water quality standards. Wiggins blames human error and poor reporting for the tribe's sewage violations.

He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quote, "It's something we're working proactively to fix." He also said the water downstream from the sewage plant shows that it's safe for humans to drink.