Last week, Mobile Baykeeper filed a notice of intent to sue againstDaphne Utilities for numerous violations under the Clean Water Act.
According to Mobile Baykeeper, the utility has failed to comply with its permit by falsely reporting sewer spill data and failing to report sewer spills into D’Olive Creek, which eventually discharge into Mobile Bay.
According to the organization, they believe the most egregious violation occurred on August 11, when more than one million gallons of raw sewage spilled from the 29280 North Main Street treatment plant into D’Olive Creek. The spill was reported by Daphne Utilities as “zero gallons” reaching waterways.
“This is completely unacceptable,” said Casi Callaway, Mobile Baykeeper Executive Director. “Upper management at Daphne Utilities has knowingly reported false sewer spill data, endangering our health and our ability to enjoy swimming and fishing in Mobile Bay. We will not let them continue to jeopardize the health and safety of our community.”
Mobile Baykeeper said they filed this 60-day NOIS because of a history of violations. Since January 2015, Daphne Utilities reported 26 sewer overflows totaling more than 743,220 gallons of sewage, incorrectly reported the name of waterways affected by various spills, and exceeded pollution discharge limits allowed by the plant’s permit.
According to J. Patrick Courtney, attorney for Mobile Baykeeper, this type of fraudulent reporting has likely been occurring for much longer due to an entrenched company culture.
“This type of leadership demonstrates a complete disregard for the health and safety of those who live in and around D’Olive Creek and Mobile Bay,” Courtney said.
The Clean Water Act requires Mobile Baykeeper to issue a 60-day NOIS before filing a citizen suit. If an agreement between both parties is not met before the expiration of the 60 day period, the case will move forward.
Daphne Utilities officials said they were disappointed by the tone of the complaint and said the utility had been working diligently to make capital improvements to its system and working with Baykeeper to help further public notification of potential issues.