Daphne Utilities is now in trouble with the state for allegedly not reporting sewage spills.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Alabama Attorney General have filed a complaint in the Baldwin County Circuit Court against Daphne Utilities on Wednesday, November 22nd.
This follows a local environmental group’s threat to file suit against the Utility last September for claims of unreported sewer spills. We're told, Daphne Utilities’ management reached out to ADEM once the complaint was received.
That local group who started it is Mobile Baykeeper. The director, Casi Callaway, says thousands of gallons of raw sewage have spilled into local waterways this year, but Daphne Utilities has kept residents in the dark about it.
"Daphne is in particular an egregious acter, what they've done is not told the truth...If they don't tell you and you go fishing and you get sick, how do you know where and how it happened. Daphne has a responsibility to tell the public what is happening."
We're told following those accusations, Daphne Utilities’ board of directors started an independent investigation.
In response, Daphne Utilities told FOX10 News:
"In the preceding months, Daphne Utilities has initiated a number of operational changes to reduce the likelihood of sewer spills and to increase accuracy in reporting. These include 24-hour per day staffing at its wastewater treatment plant, upgraded monitoring and alarm systems, as well as operator training.As a government body, funded by rate payers, Daphne Utilities will always work to ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations and to cooperate with those agencies to correct any deficiencies. As this is ongoing litigation and the independent investigation continues, Daphne Utilities will suspend any further comments until the investigations are complete to the satisfaction of both ADEM and Daphne Utilities."
Callaway says it's a step in the right direction, but is still disappointed that a lawsuit had to be filed to see any action.
"There's a lot more to do, the sewer spills continue, we still feel very strongly that the culture of not being accurate, and presenting accurate and comprehensive information to the public still exists, and that's not acceptable."
Back in September, Mobile Baykeeper filed an intent to sue. The organization is now preparing to file an official complaint, like ADEM did. It's unclear if the case will continue in local court or federal court.
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