Congaree Riverkeeper Wins Federal Lawsuit Against Carolina Water Service
On Thursday (March 30th) a federal court ruled in favor of Congaree Riverkeeper in a citizen Clean Water Act lawsuit brought against private sewer company Carolina Water Service (CWS). The court ruled that the Carolina Water Service I-20 wastewater treatment plant has been violating the Clean Water Act by discharging pollution into the Saluda River and violating the terms of their NPDES permit. The judge fined the utility $1.5 million and ruled that CWS will be permanently prohibited from discharging into the river, and must connect to a regional wastewater treatment plant within one year.
This ruling is the result of years of work by Congaree Riverkeeper and our attorneys with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
“This is a great day for the Saluda River, and it is the outcome we were fighting for,” said Catherine Wannamaker, a Southern Environmental Law Center attorney in the Charleston office. “Carolina Water Service has repeatedly ignored its obligation to connect to a municipal sewage system, and has repeatedly fouled the Saluda River with improperly treated sewage. This is a victory for everyone who uses that river, and for everyone who stood up to CWS to force them to stop these unlawful discharges, even when state authorities initially would not.”
“Pollution from the I-20 plant has degraded the Saluda River far too long, and we are proud to see it on its way to finally getting get cleaned up,” said Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler. “This is a landmark day for the Saluda River and everyone who swims, boats and fishes in it.”
“People in the Midlands value the Saluda River too much for it to be used as a dumping ground for poorly treated sewage,” Blan Holman, another SELC attorneywho represented Congaree Riverkeeper. “Getting this pollution out of the river recognizes that our local rivers are a huge natural asset and the centerpiece of outdoor recreation for our region. We’ve got to keep them clean.”
Here is an excerpt from the conclusion of the 31 page ruling:
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Civil Action Number: 3:15-cv-00194-MBS
CONGAREE RIVERKEEPER, INC. Plaintiff
CAROLINA WATER SERVICE, INC., Defendant
Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment is granted.
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment is denied. For the reasons stated above, the court
fines Defendant $1,500,000 for Defendant’s failure to connect to the regional system and
$23,000 for Defendant’s violation of the effluent limitations, totaling $1,523,000. The fine shall
be paid to the United States Treasury.
GOOD CAUSE HAVING BEEN SHOWN THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that
effective April 1, 2018, Defendant Carolina Water Service, Inc. a South Carolina Corporation, its
directors, principals, officers, agents, servants, employees, representatives, successors, and
assigns, and all those acting in concert or participation with them shall be, and hereby are,
PERMANENTLY ENJOINED and restrained from:
(1) discharging any treated or untreated waste water into the Saluda River; and
(2) must connect to a regional waste water treatment plant, in any manner, in
accordance with the 208 Plan.
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