Bayou City Waterkeeper Threatens Suit Against the City of Houston

City of Houston violates the Clean Water Act with over 9,000 sewage discharges in public waterways.

HOUSTON, TX – Bayou City Waterkeeper served the City of Houston with a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue (NOIS) over 9,000 violations under the Clean Water Act on Monday, 23 July 2018. The City has failed to comply with its permits by allowing untreated sewage to be discharged from its wastewater facilities into our public waterways throughout the Houston area.

Untreated wastewater can contain bacteria, viruses, and other pollutants that can impact public health and cause property damage. Sanitary Sewage Overflows and bypass discharges can contaminate waterbodies and cause serious water quality problems. The City of Houston has long been aware of its SSOs and bypass problems and has failed to eliminate them from its wastewater system.

Over the last five years, the City has self-reported more than 9,300 discharge violations. These sewage discharges violate the City’s Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) permits, indicate improper operation and maintenance of the sewer system, and constitute unlawful discharges into our local waterways.

“This is completely unacceptable,” said Jordan Macha, Bayou City Waterkeeper Executive Director and Waterkeeper. “To add insult to injury, many of the waterways that were affected by these sewer overflows are already listed as impaired by the TCEQ. This breach of the public trust further endangers our health and our ability to enjoy recreational activity throughout our bayous, creeks, and streams. We cannot let the City continue to jeopardize the health and safety of our community.”

Bayou City Waterkeeper filed this 60-day NOIS because of the City’s history of violations. Since June 2013, the City of Houston has reported sewer overflows and exceeded pollution discharge limits allowed by their permits.

According to Eric Allmon, an attorney with Frederick, Perales, Allmon & Rockwell, P.C. representing Bayou City Waterkeeper, the scope of the 9,319 sewage violations are constrained by the fact that this is self-reported data. “The City’s problem is likely even more severe than our research has revealed considering the apparent underreporting of the full quantity of untreated sewage being discharged.”

The Clean Water Act requires Bayou City Waterkeeper to issue a 60-day NOIS before filing a citizen suit. If an agreement between both parties is not met before the expiration of the 60-day period, the case will move forward.

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For More Information, Contact:

Lauren Ice, Frederick, Perales, Allmon & Rockwell, P.C. -- 512.469.6000, lauren@lf-lawfirm.com

Jordan Macha, Bayou City Waterkeeper -- 713.309.6683, jordan@bayoucitywaterkeeper.org

Kristen Schlemmer, Bayou City Waterkeeper -- 281.901.0182, kristen@bayoucitywaterkeeper.org

To read the full Notice of Intent to Sue, please click here.


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