Environmental Protection

The Potomac Water Filtration Plant has been sued for dumping more than 30 million pounds of sediment and aluminum into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay over a four-year period.

Maryland Water Supplier Gets Sued for Violating Clean Water Act

The Potomac Water Filtration Plant has been sued for dumping more than 30 million pounds of sediment and aluminum into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay over a four-year period.

The lawsuit was filed by the Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of the Potomac Riverkeeper, and attorneys from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, against The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), owner of the Potomac Water Filtration Plant, for violating the Clean Water Act and polluting the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Located in Maryland, the Potomac Water Filtration Plant released more than 15 million gallons of wastewater containing sediments and aluminum into the Potomac River each day. The facility has been operating under a five-year license that expired more than a decade ago.

As a result of the pollution, the water becomes muddy which reduces the amount of oxygen marine life needs to thrive and reduces the amount of sunlight aquatic plant life needs in order to grow. According to the release, despite the fact that aluminum can have negative effects on fish and amphibian species, the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) has permitted the WCCS to release the hazardous material into the Bay for more than 10 years.

“The sediment being discharged, in violation of permit limits, is damaging the health of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, and toxicity testing, which is required by the permit, is needed to determine what damage is being done by the aluminum,” said Jon Mueller, CBF vice president, litigation . “The goal of this action is to push WSSC to upgrade its facility, stop unpermitted discharges, and ensure accurate monitoring. MDE and WSSC must ensure that permit limits, crucial to Chesapeake Bay Blueprint efforts, are met.”

In the lawsuit, the Potomac Riverkeeper and Chesapeake Bay ask the WSSC to be penalized for the illegal discharge and violations of the Clean Water Act, and ask the MDE to provide WSSC with a new permit with more regulations. 

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