Groups threaten to sue Gadsden over sewage overflows in the Coosa River watershed

Sewer Overflows
Map of sewer overflows in the city of Gadsden. Screenshot of Coosa Riverkeeper google map

Several conservation and community groups filed a formal notice  of their intent to sue the city of Gadsden, Alabama for Clean Water Act violations by the city’s wastewater-treatment system.

Four groups filed the notice: Coosa Riverkeeper, the Center for Biological Diversity, Advanced Etowah and Our Children’s Earth Foundation.

150 Illegal Sewer Overflows

According to the coalition, Gadsden’s wastewater-treatment system has experienced more than 150 illegal sewer overflows in the past five years. The overflows have resulted in thousands of gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage flowing into houses, onto streets and into Neely Henry Lake, the Coosa River, Big Wills Creek, Black Creek and their tributaries and surrounding wetlands.

“Families who live, work and play in Gadsden and on the Coosa River deserve better,” said Justinn Overton, the Coosa Riverkeeper. “The frequency and volume of sanitary sewer overflows impact water quality and public health throughout the city. These overflows are in direct violation of their state-issued permits and the Clean Water Act.”

Here is a map documenting each sewer overflow report:

As previously reported in Bham Now, river protection groups and water quality advocates statewide have been sounding the alarm on sewer overflows for years. 

Coosa Riverkeeper, which also operates the acclaimed Fish Guide and Swim Guide programs,  has received and documented  multiple complaints from community members in Etowah County related to sewage overflows. Complaints range from odor issues to overflowing manholes and failing pump stations throughout Gadsden. 

“Gadsden’s chronic water-quality violations are jeopardizing community health and safety and pushing endangered river species toward extinction,” said Hannah Connor, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, and a participant in the legal action. “Gadsden’s priority should be to keep sewage out of the streets and waterways and to protect its communities and exceptional natural resources.”

What’s Next?

Gadsden has 60 days to respond to the notice before the groups file a lawsuit in federal court.

Follow Coosa Riverkeeper and connect with them to learn more about sewer overflows and their notice of intent action.

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Pat Byington
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