Law Street Media

Alabama City Sued by Environmental Orgs. for CWA Violations

A scientist examining toxic waste in water.

Scientist examining toxic water samples

Coosa Riverkeeper, accompanied by other environmental organizations, filed a complaint against The Water Works and Sewer Board of the city of Gadsden alleging the defendant has made numerous violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and their own National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, issued under the CWA..

The plaintiffs are comprised of the following parties: Coosa Riverkeeper is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and restore the ecological integrity of the Coosa River through enforcement and community action; The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of ecosystems. Advance Etowah is a nonprofit organization with the goal of bringing together the community of Etowah County by informing citizens about the local government and encouraging them to take a role in the government; Our Children’s Earth Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the environment.

The plaintiffs explained that they represent members and supporters who have personally suffered recreational, aesthetic, economic, and health damage due to the alleged violations of the Clean Water Act by the defendant. Those represented are community members of or near Gadsden.

According to the complaint, the defendant has allowed the sanitary sewers to dilapidate; because of this, untreated sewage is discharged from manholes, sewer pipes, and other infrastructure. These discharges are called Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs). The complaint states The Board’s failure to comply with its own NPDES has led to SSOs entering streets, homes, and several bodies of water surrounding Gadsden.

The NPDES permits require the defendant to maintain sewer infrastructure, report accurately and often on the discharged pollution, and assure sewage pollution discharges do not compromise water quality standards, the complaint says.

On November 18, 2021, the plaintiffs issued a sixty-day notice letter to the defendant as required by the CWA.. This letter informed the defendant that the plaintiffs intended to sue the defendant for their numerous alleged violations of their NPDES and the Clean Water Act. A copy of this letter was also sent to the Environment Protection Agency.

The plaintiffs seek that the defendant be declared to have violated and be in violation of the Clean Water Act, the defendant be enjoined from further violating its NPDES and the Clean Water Act, the defendant be compelled to repair the city of Gadsden’s sewage infrastructure and properly maintain it and address its previous violations of NPDES and the Clean Water Act, as well as, report on its pollutant discharge as required by the NPDES permits. The plaintiffs also seek to compel the board to cease causing violations of water quality standards, as well as, the defendant’s payment of civil penalties, restoration of water qualities impaired, and payment of the plaintiff’s costs of litigation.

The plaintiffs are represented by Knowles & Sullivan, LLC, Super Law Group, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

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