Maryland files lawsuit over pollution at Baltimore sewage treatment plants

Maryland’s attorney general has filed a new lawsuit seeking to stop pollution at Baltimore’s two sewage treatment plants, which are under increasing scrutiny for violating water regulations drinkable.

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh filed the lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court. The complaint alleges that the Back River and Patapsco wastewater treatment plants, which are both operated by the city of Baltimore, repeatedly violated their discharge permits.

“The violations described in our complaint allege significant and repeated violations of state and federal water pollution laws, endangering our waterways and our drinking water,” Frosh said in a press release. “The sewage treatment plants are essential in our efforts to improve the health of the (Chesapeake) Bay and they must comply with state permits and environmental laws.”

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Maryland Department of Environment, follows a federal lawsuit filed last month by Blue Water Baltimore, a clean water advocacy group.

The group sued under the federal Clean Water Act, which allows private citizens to sue to enforce anti-pollution laws. The Blue Water Baltimore lawsuit argued that neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the state of Maryland was taking action to stop pollution or pursuing administrative penalties.

According to the lawsuit, the Patapsco plant violated its permit limits for pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus 133 times, for a total of 899 “exceedance days” between January 2017 and September 2021.

During the same period, the Back River plant exceeded its permit limits 138 times, for a total of 1,611 exceedance days, according to the complaint.

The attorney general’s office said Friday that the Maryland Department of the Environment issued two letters of notice of intent to sue under the Clean Water Act, which preserves the agency’s right to intervene in the federal trial if necessary.

The city did not file a response to Blue Water Baltimore’s lawsuit, but joined in a motion to temporarily stay the case “to allow the parties to meet to discuss an early resolution to this case,” according to court records.

The state’s new lawsuit alleges violations, including failure to report sampling results and non-compliance; not adhering to sampling protocols and not maintaining sampling equipment; failing to provide adequate personnel to operate the factories; and not performing necessary maintenance.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction that would force the city to take action and stop pollutant releases from sewage treatment plants.

Struggling plants have come under increasing scrutiny for their treatment of wastewater, which can harm aquatic ecosystems and cause disease in humans if not treated properly.

Blue Water Baltimore said in August it had shared information with the state about its water quality monitoring program, which led state inspectors to discover “major violations” in two factories.

About Charles Holmes

Check Also

11,000 potted plants destroyed in 2 raids – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Police use a Kubota tractor to destroy cannabis during a raid in the Eagle Point …