BWA, PennFuture announce plan to sue Mt. Pocono Municipal Authority for pollution to Forest Hills Run
(Mt. Pocono, PA – September 22, 2010) – The Brodhead Watershed Association (BWA) and Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) today issued a notice of intent to sue Mount Pocono Municipal Authority for violations of the federal Clean Water Act and the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law at the Authority’s municipal sewage treatment plant. The notice details a history by the Authority of exceeding temperature limits for the discharge of treated sewage from the plant to Forest Hills Run.
“Forest Hills Run earned the distinction of ‘high quality, cold-water fishes’ because it was one of Pennsylvania’s premier streams” said Dr. Patricia Kennedy, president of BWA, which is dedicated to protecting and improving water resources and the environment in the Brodhead and Cherry Creek Watershed, including Forest Hills Run. “The Authority’s temperature violations have been going on for far too long and pose a significant problem for a stream containing fish and other aquatic life that rely on cold water to survive.”
“The information on the failure of the Authority to follow the law comes from the Authority’s own records,” said Brian Glass, PennFuture’s senior attorney who is representing both BWA and PennFuture. “From October 2005 to May 2010, the Authority’s discharges exceeded temperature limits a whopping 526 times. This is clearly a pattern, and it must be stopped.”
Provisions in both state and federal law require that the Authority follow its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which is required for all point sources discharging pollutants into waters of the United States. The Authority’s permit specifies the maximum temperatures allowed for any discharge from the plant. Both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Streams Law allow citizens to enforce the permit limits when the government has failed to do so, as it has here.
Under the law, the Authority now has 60 days to bring itself into compliance with its permit, or BWA and PennFuture will file their lawsuit. If found in violation of the law, the Authority would be ordered to comply with the permit, and could face steep penalties and be ordered to pay all legal costs.
A copy of the Notice of Intent to Sue is available on PennFuture’s website at http://www.pennfuture.org/UserFiles/File/Legal/Water_BG_MtPoconoNoticeLetter_20100922.pdf .
PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy. With offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, West Chester, and Wilkes-Barre, PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and assisting citizens in public advocacy. PennFuture has experts and attorneys, outreach workers and communicators, lobbyists and educators, all working with local groups and citizens across the state to adopt and enforce great public policy. Its motto is “Every environmental victory grows the economy.” The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the state’s “leading environmental advocacy organization.”