GreenLaw Attorneys Give 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue

Today GreenLaw attorneys representing the Coosa River Basin Initiative (CRBI) sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue to the City of Dallas to stop repeated wastewater spills that are polluting a local creek that flows into the Etowah River near Cartersville.  For over a decade two wastewater treatment plants operated by the City of Dallas in Paulding County have been in violation of state and federal water quality laws.  Despite incurring fines totaling $246,000 levied by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) over the past five years, this suburban community, located 32 miles northwest of Atlanta, has refused to take action to prevent repeated sewage overflows into Pumpkinvine Creek, a tributary of the Etowah River in the Coosa River Basin.

“It is imperative that the City face up to its responsibility to obey water quality protection laws that are designed to preserve the health of our citizens, both in Dallas and in surrounding areas of the Coosa River Basin,” commented Hutton Brown, senior attorney with GreenLaw.  “We have tried every other approach to get the City of Dallas to take action to stop this pollution, but even serious financial penalties have not had an impact. We presume legal action will get the attention of city officials.”

According to EPD records, since January 2004, the City has violated state and federal laws on 2078 different occasions by failing to meet the requirements of its discharge permits and through sewage spills totaling 4,574,560 gallons.  In 2007 alone, EPD levied fines against the City totaling $173,000, and in 2009 EPD has already documented four illegal discharges.

These spills violate the Federal Clean Water Act, the Georgia Water Quality Control Act and other statewide pollution standards.  CRBI Executive Director and Riverkeeper Joe Cook said, “The pollution from these two wastewater plants can no longer be ignored.  Ten years is too long.  Dallas cannot just keep on paying to pollute the Etowah River indefinitely.  It must clean up this mess.”

Paulding County, for which Dallas is the county seat, has consistently ranked among Georgia’s top ten fastest growing counties. During the 1990s, it ranked seventh among the nation’s fastest growing counties. Its current population is 133,135, up by more than 50,000 people since 2000.  The population of Dallas is 10,500 residents.

The City has 60 days to respond to the letter and negotiate a remedy; otherwise, GreenLaw has the right to file a lawsuit on behalf of CRBI in U.S. District Court.