Four Non-profit Corporations Sue Bradenton, Fla. for Violations of the Clean Water Act

On Tuesday, Suncoast Waterkeeper, Our Children’s Earth Foundation, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper and ManaSota-88 filed a complaint in the Middle District of Florida against the City of Bradenton, Florida alleging violations of the Clean Water Act. 

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are registered non-profit corporations in Florida that focus on environmental-enforcement activities related to water quality in Florida. The plaintiffs state they have members across southwest Florida who use the local waterways for recreation, aesthetic enjoyment, fishing, wildlife observation and educational study. Further, the plaintiffs allege that together they represent their members in and around the City of Bradenton, the Manatee River, Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay who have personally suffered harm to their aesthetic, recreational and employment-related interest in these waterways and surrounding areas. 

The complaint states the City of Bradenton is the owner and operator of the Bradenton Wastewater Treatment Facility and connected sewage wastewater collection and transmission system that collects and treats sewage from Bradenton’s residents and businesses. Additionally, the complaint states the Treatment Facility receives on average nine million gallons of sewage wastewater per day and the treated wastewater effluent is either distributed for land application or discharged into the Manatee River. 

In addition to the Treatment Facility, the complaint states Bradenton also owns and operates the portion of the State of Florida Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System within its jurisdiction. The complaint purports that the Separate Storm Sewer System contains numerous storm drain inlets that discharge into the Manatee River and receiving waters. 

The plaintiffs allege that the amount of total nitrogen discharged by Bradenton from the Treatment Facility and the Separate Storm Sewer System exceeds the level authorized under its permits granted under the Clean Water Act. The plaintiffs argue the excessive levels of nitrogen discharged by the plaintiff has caused ecological harm to the Manatee River and its receiving waters, including a 21% decline in seagrass population, algae blooms, red tide and poor water quality. 

The plaintiffs bring eight causes of action against the plaintiff including violation of the defendant’s permits under the Clean Water Act, discharge of pollutants without permit authorization under the Clean Water Act, violation of the State of Florida Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit and violation of reporting requirements of the defendant’s permits. For these alleged violations, the plaintiffs seek declaratory relief of the defendant’s violations, injunctive relief, civil penalties of up to $56,460 per day per violation and an award of reasonable costs and attorneys fees.

The plaintiffs are represented by Justin Bloom.