SW Legal studies in Business

Riverkeepers Organization Has Standing to Sue for Violations of Clean Water Act
Description Court agreed that a riverkeeper organization had standing to bring a citizen suit against a city for consistent violations of its wastewater treatment facility permit that was causing pollution to a river. Since the plaintiffs provided evidence of damage to their use and enjoyment of the river, the case could proceed.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Clean Water Act; Citizen Suit; Standing
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The City of Cochran, Georgia operated a wastewater treatment facility under an NPDES permit. Treated water is dumped into Jordan Creek, a tributary of the Ocmulgee River in the Altamaha River basin. For five years, the city regularly exceeded the effluent limitations in its NPDES permit. The Altahmaha Riverkeeper (ARK), a non-profit environmental organization founded to protect and restore the Altamaha River, sued Cochran under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act. ARK sought injunctive relief against the pollution as well as civil penalties and attorney fees. ARK moved for partial summary judgment.
Decision

Granted. The citizens gave the state the required 60-day notice of the suit and filed the suit within 120 days of the date the notice was given to the state. The residents allegation that the river smelled and looked polluted, and that they use the river less for recreational, aesthetic and commercial purposes because the city violates its NPDES permit, sufficiently alleges injury in fact to support their standing to bring a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act. The remedy sought under the Act would redress the residents' injuries resulting from the pollution. The court's remedy would bring the city into compliance with its NPDES permit so that ARK members could use and enjoy the waterways without fear of pollution. The fact that the city and the state had entered into an agreement to bring the facility into compliance does not bar the suit.

Citation Altamaha Riverkeepers v. City of Cochran, F.Supp.2d (2001 WL 1082482, M.D. Ga., 2001)

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