Water quality advocacy group Blue Water Baltimore will have legal standing to help enforce a federal court order that requires the city to repair its sewer system, the organization announced Monday.

In 2002, state and federal officials imposed a consent decree ordering the city to modernize its sewage system, but the work was not finished by the end of 2015 as required. City officials negotiated the new court order, which requires Baltimore to make $1.2 billion in repairs over the next 15 years to stop the chronic sewage outflows that foul the Patapsco River and other tributaries.

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Blue Water Baltimore made a motion to be a party to the decree, and the motion was approved Sept. 8 after it was unopposed by other parties. U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz found the request "appropriate."

The motion will allow the organization to alert regulators to ongoing pollution concerns after repairs are made.

"Blue Water Baltimore is very pleased with the court's ruling because we want to help Baltimore fix its failing sewer system," executive director Halle Van der Gaag said in a statement. "Now, as a party to this case, we hope to see and report to the public on measurable progress to improve water quality in Baltimore's neighborhood streams, rivers and harbor. This is a long-term investment for us to tackle the largest source of pollution in Baltimore's waterways."

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