Legal / Plum Island / Sewage & Stormwater / Support CFE/Save the Sound

Your Legal Watchdogs

With your support, we’re fighting to stop water pollution in our rivers and the Sound and to protect precious landscapes and wildlife habitat. Here’s the latest news on just a few of our most critical projects.

Saving Plum IslandW-37 Lorenz_MG_0477.jpg

CFE/Save the Sound and six other organizations and individuals filed suit in July against the Department of Homeland Security and the General Services Administration in Federal District Court. Last Friday, the agencies responded, asking for a conference to discuss their anticipated motion to dismiss our suit. (Photo: Bob Lorenz)
 “Our claim is that Homeland Security and GSA’s final decision to proceed with the public sale of Plum Island without appropriate environmental review violated federal law and failed to protect endangered and threatened species,” said Roger Reynolds, CFE/Save the Sound legal director. “We are seeking to halt any efforts to move forward with that decision and look forward to the opportunity to make our case to a judge.”

A recent study by the New York Natural Heritage Program identified 111 endangered and threatened species using the island. We will continue to fight for them.

Solving Sewage Leaks in Westchester

Sewage pollution is a big problem throughout the Sound region-it fouls beaches, closes shellfish beds, and can contribute to dead zones. Last year we filed Clean Water Act claims in federal District Court against Westchester County and its eleven municipalities for failing to maintain its wastewater system and discharging raw sewage into Long Island Sound. While they have purportedly been working on this problem since at least 2003, little if any progress has been made and pollution continues to flow. Attorneys Robert Kaplan and Richard Kilsheimer from Kaplan, Fox and Kilsheimer are heading the litigation for us. (Read more about the litigation here.)

All parties are now engaged in settlement discussions about a cooperative regional plan to study and fix the sewer pipe breaks and leaks throughout the County in a timely manner. If such talks stall, we will continue to seek a court order.

Warning of Danbury’s Sewage Overflows

Following an extensive investigation of sewage discharges statewide, on October 3 we sent the Town of Danbury a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue.
“Our investigation has uncovered a troubling pattern of sewage discharges in Danbury that violate the Clean Water Act,” said Jack Looney, staff attorney at CFE/Save the Sound. “According to state records, Danbury has released raw or untreated sewage into local rivers and streams at least 66 times from early 2011 to early 2016. It has also repeatedly violated its permits for lead and other metals and for fecal Coliform bacteria. This is dangerous and unacceptable. Our letter formally puts the Town of Danbury on notice that if it does not take action to remedy these violations within the next 60 days, CFE/Save the Sound may file a citizen suit in federal court. We have reached out to town officials to discuss this matter and hope to find a resolution.”

Our ongoing investigation could result in additional letters to other municipalities violating the law.

Stopping Nitrogen Pollution from Massachusettswatershed-map-long-island-sound

Much of the nitrogen in the Sound comes not from Connecticut or New York, but from the upstream states that drain into the Connecticut River–which is why EPA highlighted these sources in its new plan for nitrogen reduction.

We have submitted comments urging that wastewater permits for Holyoke, MA be tightened, and have filed a petition to strengthen the permit on Springfield’s wastewater treatment plant. EPA has indicated they’ll re-open the permit, but has not yet committed to a timeline or enforceable nitrogen limits. If EPA fails to act on our petition by early winter, we will consider other legal options to force action by EPA.

Questions?

Want more information on these cases or our other legal projects in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts–like our ongoing battle to protect the Oswegatchie Hills in East Lyme? Get in touch anytime! Contact Melissa Schlag at mschlag@ctenvironment.org or 203-787-0646 x128.

Your Opportunity to Help

There’s currently a rare opportunity to double your gift. A family foundation has offered a generous challenge: a dollar-for-dollar match for the first $10,000 in contributions made towards our legal program before the end of the year. Your gift today, targeted exclusively to legal work, will leverage matching funds and ensure we can continue safeguarding your land, air, and water. Thank you!

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