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Tennessee Riverkeeper claims City of Huntsville violated environmental law, files intent to sue

Tennessee Riverkeeper on Monday announced its intentions to take the City of Huntsville to court, claiming it to be in violation of federal and state environmental law.

The Tennessee River watchdog and anti-pollution advocacy organization says the city has violated both the Clean Water Act and the Alabama Pollution Control Act, according to Huntsville’s WAAY 31.

Tennessee Riverkeeper reportedly accused Spring Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) of having committed 79 violations in the past three years. It further alleged that over a million gallons of “untreated sewage” had been “released into the environment.”

“When raw sewage is discharged into communities it carries with it bacteria and pathogens that can be a threat to public health,” said the organization’s founder David Whiteside, reports WAAY 31.

Officials with the city in a released statement said that they have yet to be notified of Tennessee Riverkeeper’s intent to sue.

“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,” the city said.

City officials hailed Huntsville’s participation in state-based environmental protection programs.

“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,” the city added. “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 city stated that it will respond to Tennessee Riverkeeper’s intent to sue once it receives official notice of the documentation’s filing.

“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,” the city concluded.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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