Erika K. Powers

  • One North Wacker Drive
    Suite 4400
    Chicago, IL 60606-2833

Erika K. Powers is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. She is chair of the Environmental Department and concentrates her practice in the area of water quality. Ms. Powers advises municipalities, utility districts, trade organizations, and other regulated parties across the country on a wide variety of Clean Water Act issues, including wet weather management and wastewater treatment. She also assists clients in matters involving water quality standards, the listing and delisting of impaired water bodies, TMDL development and implementation, effluent limitations guidelines for wastewater discharges, and water permitting, compliance, and enforcement issues. She has been a speaker on municipal and industrial Clean Water Act issues on many occasions.

Ms. Powers handles water regulatory matters involving state and federal environmental agencies, as well as Clean Water Act administrative and judicial litigation matters. She participates in water quality rulemaking and policy development, advises clients on compliance with water quality regulations, assists clients in challenging agency decisions in federal and state courts, and defends clients against citizen suits and agency enforcement actions seeking damages and penalties. Ms. Powers has been recognized since the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America for her work in environmental law.

Ms. Powers’ experience includes:

  • Negotiating and modifying wet weather consent decrees between public utilities and state and federal agencies
  • Developing combined sewer overflow (CSO) long term control plans (LTCPs) and separate sewer overflow (SSO) minimization plans
  • Developing integrated plans to prioritize municipal investments in water-related obligations
  • Working collaboratively with clients and regulators to achieve strategic municipal and business objectives while fully complying with Clean Water Act requirements
  • Participating in federal and state water policy development and rulemaking efforts
  • Challenging environmental rules promulgated by U.S. EPA and state agencies, including water quality standards and effluent limitations guidelines
  • Providing advice on obtaining, complying with, and appealing NPDES wastewater discharge permits
  • Defending U.S. EPA and state enforcement actions and citizen suits
  • Developing and modifying municipal pretreatment programs
  • Developing site-specific water quality criteria
  • Developing, negotiating, and appealing total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) established by state and federal agencies

Ms. Powers is past chair of the Chicago Bar Association Environmental Law Committee. She is a member of the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, as well as the State Bar of Michigan Environmental Law Section.

Ms. Powers received her B.A. from Alma College summa cum laude in business and finance in 1990 and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 1994.

Ms. Powers is licensed and has practiced in both Illinois and Michigan. She currently is admitted to practice before Illinois and Michigan state courts, as well as the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Michigan.