Groups threaten to sue Franklin over sewage discharge - WSMV News 4

Groups threaten to sue Franklin over sewage discharge

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Spring is around the corner and you can bet a lot of people will be flocking to the Harpeth River.

But how safe is the river's water?

Some environmentalists are threatening to sue Franklin.

They said that over the past five years city sewage treatment plants have released far more pollutants into the Harpeth than the Clean Water Act allows.

The 125-mile Harpeth River winds its way through three Middle Tennessee counties.

Conservationists say, as beautiful as the water may look, there are some dry months when as much as 90 percent of the water in the river is comprised of human waste that's been treated at one of three sewage plants in Franklin. The city owns one facility and there are two owned by private utility companies.

"It doesn't all need to go into the Harpeth River," said Dorene Bolze from the Harpeth River Watershed Association. "So I think it's time to be thinking regionally. There's lot of options that our organization, engineers and others have put on the table."

"We have a lot of options moving forward for planning for growth in that the city sewer plants and the city of Franklin are meeting their permit conditions."

The Harpeth River Watershed Association and the Southern Environmental Law Center said that Franklin's sewage plants have discharged excessive amounts of waste and committed hundreds of reporting violations over the past years.

"The general types of things I'd say show up in most of the plants are reporting violations, letting the Department of Environment and Conservation know home much is going into the river," said Annie Passino with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

On Monday they gave the city a 60-day warning. If they don't take immediate steps to at least work on the problem, they're prepared to file suit.

"The Clean Water Act includes a provision that allows citizens and groups like ours to bring these kinds of violations to light," said Passino.

City administrator Eric Stuckey admits that mistakes happen, but said these allegations aren't an accurate reflection of what's actually happening.

"We're a heavily regulated operation," said Stuckey. "We're seen as a leader in the state at what we do. Whenever something happens, we reported, fix and self-report it to the regulators so they know what we've done."

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