An environmental advocacy group filed legal action against the city of Baltimore Wednesday, alleging that the city has not complied with a 2002 agreement to lessen sewage outflows that pollute area waterways.
The group Blue Water Baltimore filed a motion in federal court to join an existing federal enforcement action that required the city to take a number of steps to address alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. In the motion, the group claims federal authorities "failed to adequately enforce" the water cleanup agreement, called a consent decree, they and the city reached in 2002.
"The City of Baltimore continues to cause sewage system overflows and other sewage incidents which cause extensive water quality contamination and pose a threat to public health," the lawsuit states.
Jeffrey Raymond, a Baltimore Department of Public Works spokesman, said the city has met "every requirement and deadline" under the 2002 agreement.
"The Baltimore City Department of Public Works is committed to fulfilling its obligations under the 2002 Consent Decree," he said in a statement. "A revision of the Consent Decree is not yet before the court, and we consider the intervention referenced today to be premature."
Raymond said that under the agreement, public works has finished $340 million in construction projects, upgraded the capacity of the Jones Falls pumping station, rehabilitated 29 miles of sewer lines, and made other fixes. More projects are planned from now through 2016, Raymond said.
The lawsuit claims the city and federal authorities have reached a tentative agreement to extend the deadline in the agreement 2016 to 2019. In the lawsuit, the group documents several times it says sewage flowed into local waters, including a "substantial" sewage discharge in June 2012 into the Baltimore Harbor and "numerous" sewage discharges in Herring Run.
Blue Water Baltimore is seeking several actions, including that the city comply with the 2002 agreement and the Clean Water Act, and that federal authorities properly enforce the agreement.
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