Tennessee Riverkeeper plans to sue Huntsville for wastewater overflows

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Tennessee Riverkeeper, Inc. has filed a notice of intent to sue the City of Huntsville under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for violations of the CWA and the Alabama Pollution Control Act.

In a press release, Tennessee Riverkeeper stated that the Spring Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has had 79 violations within the past three years, and 1,250,200 gallons of untreated sewage were released into the environment.

Tennessee Riverkeeper went on in the release to say that the “operational failures and discharges demonstrate a continuing pattern of pollution that degrades and threatens waters of the United States in violation of the Clean Water Act and state law.”

They also say they intend to “prosecute these and similar or related violations in the appropriate judicial forum, including all violations which occur or continue after service of this notice and all violations revealed in the course of the litigation discovery process.”

The environmental watchdog group also stated that none of the discharges reported in 2020 and 2021 were listed as flowing into a waterway. Tennessee RiverKeeper alleges that may not be accurate, saying, “These appear to be willfully false statements subject to civil and criminal penalties.”

Tennessee Riverkeeper filed the notice of intent to sue on Sept. 17 in federal district court.

In response to the press release, Huntsville City released the following statement:

“The City of Huntsville has not received any official documentation of this intent to sue or had any communication with the Tennessee Riverkeepers.  The City’s Water Pollution Control Department has, since the mid-1990s, invested millions of dollars annually in sewer system rehabilitation.  Since 1994, the City has also been one of the State’s top participants in the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) State Revolving Loan Fund Program under the Clean Water Act for sewer system rehabilitation and system improvements. Water Pollution Control also utilizes the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended (non-mandated) Capacity, Management, Operations and Maintenance (CMOM) program for the overall operations and maintenance of the collection system and wastewater treatment facilities. The EPA CMOM Guidelines are a best-management practice guide for evaluating public wastewater systems. The City awaits receipt of a copy of Riverkeepers filing, and, upon review, will respond appropriately.”  

A copy of the Tennessee Riverkeeper’s notice of intent to sue can be viewed here.

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