Tennessee Riverkeeper wants to join AG lawsuit, clean up millions of gallons of Decatur sewage

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DECATUR, Ala. - The environmental watchdog group for north Alabama wants to join the state's top law enforcement officer in a sewage overflow lawsuit against Decatur Utilities.

On Monday, an attorney representing Tennessee Riverkeeper filed a motion to intervene in the case that was filed by the attorney general back in May.

In March, Tennessee Riverkeeper filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue DU. The group planned to file a federal lawsuit alleging the utility violated the Clean Water Act after millions of gallons of sewage entered Decatur waterways.

Records show that there were more than 6.4 million gallons in sewage overflows in 2019.

"Tennessee Riverkeeper initiated this enforcement action. We found these pollution violations in ADEM'S records and the city of Decatur admitted to these pollution violations," said Tennessee Riverkeeper founder David Whiteside.

The group also alleges that DU had a total of 245 sewage overflow violations with more than 22 million gallons spilled since 2014. Whiteside wants the sewage cleaned up in a timely manner.

"Unfortunately oftentimes, when we see state government working with local government the process, is slowed down, and sometimes we've seen that the pollution problem is not fixed at all," said Whiteside.

Whiteside tells WHNT News 19 allowing the environmental group to join the case will help the people who live and work in Decatur, and that pollution clean up would be of value to anyone who uses the Tennessee River.

"Right now our city officials are trying to attract more residents into Decatur and one of the best ways to do that is to make this river as clean as possible," explained Whiteside.

The Alabama AG's office and Decatur Utilities confirm tell WHNT News 19 they are aware of the environmental groups' intent to intervene in the case but declined to comment on the matter.

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling referred us to the law firm handling the case. We reached out to the lead attorney representing DU but haven't heard back.

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