A federal lawsuit filed by environmental group Tennessee Riverkeeper is aiming to reduce sewage pollution in the Cumberland River.
The group says the city of Clarksville isn’t treating all of its wastewater, and that it violated the federal Clean Water Act by allowing over 24 million gallons of untreated sewage to be released into the environment.
David Whiteside, the group’s founder, says pollution in the waterway is a threat to public health, too.
“If Clarksville had been doing a better job and treating the sewage infrastructure problems more seriously over the past decades, then we would not be in a position where Riverkeeper had to sue them,” says Whiteside.
A spokesman for the city, Richard Stevens, says they’ve spent over $100 million on sewer treatment and upgrades over the past decade. He says they aren’t aware of any health concerns related to wastewater.
Stevens says the lawsuit hinders efforts to improve the sewer system. He says the suit is costly to defend, and that the money would be better used improving the local infrastructure.
“They’re suing us over what a reasonable person would conclude is a very small drop in a very big bucket,’ says Stevens. “We’re very successful in treating 99.89 percent of the wastewater in our watershed. We’re not consciously choosing to dump raw sewage into the Cumberland River.”