County of Sacramento Sued in Polluted Discharge Litigation

On Thursday in the Eastern District of California, plaintiff California Coastkeeper Alliance filed suit against three defendants, the County of Sacramento, the Sacramento Area Sewer District, and the Sacramento County Department of Water Resources. The Alliance is accusing the defendants of knowingly letting point source discharges into the waters of the United States absent the required permits.

The discharges are allegedly in violation of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the NPDES Permit for Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems.

The Alliance is an environmental group whose mission is to “advance statewide policies and programs for health and clean waters.” They work with federal, state, and local actors to advocate and implement policies that match the needs of California’s waters and coasts.

The purportedly illegal discharges from the defendants have affected the Mokelumne River, Dry Creek, Morrison Creek, the American River, the Sacramento River and more. The waterways have been polluted with raw sewage and associated pollutants, which directly “degrades water quality and harms aquatic life.” Further, the polluted discharge supposedly reached area businesses, residents’ yards and basements, municipal sidewalks, streets, gutters, and other paved and unpaved areas, which poses substantial health risks to the public.

Because of the ongoing and continuous nature of the offenses, individuals who live in the areas’ enjoyment and usage of the receiving waters has been “reduced and/or changed based on the discharges of raw sewage, and would cease should the water quality become too degraded.”

Any non-approved discharge is not permitted under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) or the specific NPDES Permit pertaining to discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems. The complaint cites these violations, and are seeking declaratory judgement, injunctive relief, the imposition of civil penalties, and an award of costs in the suit.

The plaintiff is represented by Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group.