Burlington Approves Agreement with Haw River Assembly and Cape Fear River Watch to Prevent Future Sewer Spills
- Published on Saturday, September 06 2014 06:57
- Written by Elaine Chiosso
In response to a 60 Day Notice of Intent to Sue brought by the Haw River Assembly and Cape Fear River Watch, the City Council of Burlington agreed on September 2, 2014, to take specific steps to improve its wastewater collection system.
In April, the two river protection groups, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, filed a notice of intent to sue to correct ongoing violations of the Clean Water Act. The Notice was filed after the 3.5 million gallon sewage spill from a broken pipe in Burlington into the Haw River in late January. A pattern of spills, and inaction by the state increased the urgency for this action.
Under Tuesday’s agreement, the groups agreed to withdraw the threat of legal action. In return, the City committed to (1) clean 20% of its sewer lines over the next three years (doubling the requirement under their collection system permit) and provide annual reports of these maintenance efforts; (2) notify the conservation groups no later than 24 hours after a sewage spill exceeding 10,000 gallons (to ensure prompt public notice when such events occur); (3) evaluate both the education and enforcement aspects of its Fats, Oils, and Grease program and submit a report to the conservation groups; (4) complete, pursuant to a set schedule, priority infrastructure projects designed to limit the likelihood of sewage spills; and (5) make stipulated payments for each day that the City fails to perform obligations under the agreement.
Elaine Chiosso, Haw Riverkeeper said “We are very pleased that the City of Burlington is undertaking these important steps to reduce the risks of future sewage spills into the Haw River and its tributaries. This agreement will protect people in Burlington, and downstream all the way to the Cape Fear River, who use the river for recreation and as a drinking water source.