Environmental watchdog group to sue Town Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant over violations

TOWN CREEK, Ala. - A local environmentalist group is planning to file a lawsuit against the Town Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant. Tennessee Riverkeeper says the wastewater plant has more than 300 water act violations in less than four years.

David Whiteside, the founder of the watchdog group, says there have been thousands of gallons of overflowing sewage in the last few years. The overflowing paired with high levels of E-coli in the water is why the group intends to file a lawsuit against the plant.

"These violations are related to sewage. Exceeding of parameters on their permit or overflows of sanitary sewage that's going straight into the Tennessee River," explains Whiteside.

He says there have been 36 different sanitary sewer overflows in the last four years. He says those raw sewage spills aren't small, adding one of them was 150,000 gallons.

"All of the violations that Riverkeeper listed in our notice of intent to sue were self-reported under federal oath by the operators of the wastewater treatment plant to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management," says Whiteside.

The group founder says the responsibility isn't just on the Town Creek, it also falls on the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

"In my opinion, they don't do a great job of protecting the environment in the first place. I think they're enabling all of these wastewater treatment plants in Alabama to continue to be in violation of sewage-related problems," says Whiteside.

Whiteside stresses that keeping the environment and water clean is not a partisan issue. He adds it's clear that local and state leaders aren't doing enough to ensure taxpayer money is going to what they say it is.

"I don't understand why this problem is happening. It's the 21st century, and if we can't treat our waste in Alabama then that's an embarrassment," says Whiteside.

WHNT spoke with the city attorney of Town Creek Friday afternoon. He says the city is aware of the claims and is currently reviewing them. The attorney says the city plans to address the issues.