Municipal Stormwater Permit Lawsuits

Location: Middletown, Burlington, Redding, and Ridgefield, Connecticut | Status: Active

Summary: Residents throughout Connecticut are living with unhealthy rivers, lakes, and streams, which have been polluted by excess stormwater runoff. Save the Sound has filed Clean Water Act Enforcement Actions against Middletown, Burlington, Redding, and Ridgefield, Connecticut for discharging polluted stormwater in violation of their Clean Water Act permits and thereby causing or contributing to unswimmable and unfishable local waterbodies.

To address the impacts of stormwater pollution, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection re-issued a Clean Water Act Municipal Stormwater General Permit in 2017, which required all municipalities of a certain size to protect water quality by, among other things, mapping their systems, eliminating illicit discharges, and reducing impervious surface area.

In spring 2021, Save the Sound investigated Connecticut municipalities’ compliance with Clean Water Act stormwater requirements. Alarmingly, our research showed that municipalities across the state are routinely violating their permits and thereby discharging polluted stormwater that violates federal water quality standards and is making local waters and the Sound unsafe for swimming and aquatic life. Moreover, many of these municipalities were not even taking the most basic steps, such as filing required annual reports to demonstrate whether they were complying with their permits. After informing various municipalities that they were in violation of their permits and illegally polluting local waterways, Save the Sound sought to communicate and work with the municipalities during a 60-day notice period to achieve compliance without a court action. While some responded in a timely manner, expressed their willingness to comply, and took meaningful affirmative action within the 60-day timeframe, others ignored these communications entirely or until it was too late. We brought suit against those municipalities that took no meaningful actions in the 60-day period.

In MiddletownE. coli and additional pollutants are contaminating the Connecticut, Coginchaug, and Mattabesset Rivers; Laurel, Miner, Sawmill, Spruce, and Sumner Brooks; Crystal Lake; and Wadsworth Falls State Park Pond. This is negatively impacting both recreation opportunities for people and habitat for fish, other aquatic life, and surrounding wildlife.

In BurlingtonE. coli negatively impacts recreation in Burlington Brook.

In ReddingE. coli and additional unknown pollutants impact both the Little and Norwalk Rivers, negatively affecting recreation as well as habitat for fish, other aquatic life, and surrounding wildlife.

In RidgefieldE. coli, phosphorus, and additional unknown pollutants impact the Norwalk River, Ridgefield Brook, Cooper Pond Brook, Titicus River Sub-Regional Basin, and Mamanasco Lake. This negatively impacts both recreation opportunities for people and habitat for fish, other aquatic, life and surrounding wildlife.

Latest Step: Save the Sound filed complaints against the four defendant municipalities on December 13, 2021.

Next Step: Ongoing discovery and litigation preparation by the parties.

Further Reading:

Action Opportunities:

Last Updated: March 23, 2022

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