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Choctawhatchee riverkeeper files notice of intent to sue against Clio

A Notice of Intent to Sue (NOIS) the City of Clio has been filed by Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Inc. and the Environmental Defense Alliance, Inc. for ongoing wastewater permit violations that have not been corrected by the city despite repeated actions by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

Michael Mullen, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper (CRK) and Environmental Defense Alliance (EDA) president, said the NOIS gives the City of Clio, ADEM and the United States Environmental Protection Agency 60 days to take actions to correct the permit violations.

“The City of Clio must take steps to correct the pollution or put into place a process and schedule for returning the facility to compliance with the pollutant discharge limits of its permit,” Mullen said. “If that does not happen CRK and EDA may choose to sue the City of Clio over these violations.”

Mullen said the first goal of the suit for CRK and EDA is to prevent pollution that degrades water quality and harms waterbody users or causes environmental damage.

“Both CRK and EDA recognize that the situation facing the City of Clio is difficult due to scarce financial resources,” Mullen said. “Many small towns face the same financial difficulties in being in compliance with the pollutant discharge limits. They just don’t have the resources but that is no excuse for the cities. And the resource situation does not relieve ADEM and USEPA of their responsibility to protect water quality.”

However, he said mechanisms need to be in place to help rural communities.

Clio has a history of violations and previous enforcement actions dating back to August 1999 when ADEM issued a Notice of Violation in which it cited discharge limit violations from February 1999 through May 1999.

What the ongoing wastewater permit violations mean to the public is the possible exposure to E. coli for those fishing and/or swimming in the upper Pea River and excessive algae in the recreational part of the stream.

“The City of Clio needs to start a time clock for enforcement action now to get back into compliance,” Mullen said.