Protecting America’s Waterways: Multiple Cases
January 1, 2004
In Florida- The Sierra Club released a report over the summer of 2003 detailing the sad state of Florida’s waterways, “Florida Waters in Trouble for Decades.” The report points to elevated mercury levels, manufacturing plants polluting rivers, and other major problems. Ironically, only two weeks after the report’s release, Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced that barges filled with toxic industrial waste would dump ammonia and other sludge just 40 miles off of Florida’s coast, threatening critical coastal fisheries and beaches. But not to despair—the Sierra Club stepped in, threatened to sue, and succeeded in having the barges moved away from fishing grounds and sensitive marine habitat. Another great victory for Florida!
In Kansas- Landfills can create serious impacts on neighboring environs, including the contamination of local waters and destruction of native habitats. In Kansas, the Sierra Club is working to prevent a dump operator from renewing their permit for a landfill on the banks of the Arkansas River. The company claims exemption from rules governing proximity from water bodies by arguing that the river is “non-navigable.” In a second case in Georgia, Sierra Club acted as a friend of the court by supporting the Taliaferro County Board of Commissioners in their permit denial of a landfill on the banks of the Ogeechee River.
In Mississippi- In another case related to river use, Sierra Club sued to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from destroying the Yazoo River Backwater Area in Mississippi in a far-fetched plan to drain the wetlands and establish farming in this ecologically sensitive area. As the Washington Post noted, the project is “a classic example of Washington's ‘iron triangle,’ the collusion of expansion-minded bureaucracies, pork-minded congressmen and money-minded special interests.” The project would result in wildlife habitat and wetland loss.
In Illinois- The Illinois River is threatened by pollution from an ethanol factory that has violated its water-pollution permit no fewer than 91 times in the past three years. The Club recently sued to stop this disaster. This lawsuit is part of the Illinois Chapter’s Water Sentinels campaign, which trains volunteers to collect water samples and monitor data with the goals of cleaning up waterways and improving state enforcement efforts.
In Alabama- Alabama’s Chattahoochee and Coosa Rivers gained a legal advocate in early 2003, as the Sierra Club’s Alabama Chapter initiated legal actions to protect those watersheds from persistent sewage pollution. The lawsuits target two wastewater treatment plants that chronically violate the Clean Water Act. These facilities are in poor shape, under bad management, and threaten to foul Alabama’s waters into the future unless action is taken to improve the operations. The proposed lawsuits, if successful, will force the wastewater treatment plants to make vital facility improvements and will pressure the state to prevent pollution of its waters.
Details and Documents:
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.