Decatur Utilities agrees to pay civil penalty for sanitary sewer overflows

Tennessee Riverkeeper founder David Whiteside says this settlement will help restore Decatur’s image and clean up the river

Legal settlement over sewage violations in Decatur

DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - In March 2019, Tennessee Riverkeeper filed a notice of intent to sue Decatur Utilities for over 240 sewage overflow violations - an issue that has been in the city for decades.

“Everyone knows sewage is gross. It’s something you learn in elementary school and it doesn’t take a scientific degree to know that this is something we don’t want in our streets, our creeks and our rivers.” said Tennessee Riverkeeper founder David Whiteside.

DU agreed to pay $123,000 as part of the legal settlement with Tennessee Riverkeeper as well as the state.

Whiteside says this settlement will help restore Decatur’s image and clean up the river.

“I’m confident to say this problem has gotten more attention and they’re speeding up the solution to fixing this pollution because Riverkeeper filed this legal action and because we’ve been so vocal about this issue,” said Whiteside.

This comes after the Decatur City Council approved a 10-year, multi-million dollar plan to replace the aging pipes.

The plan includes a bill increase for residents. A spokesman for Decatur Utilities provided no comment regarding the settlement, but did say work is already underway on reviewing bids to begin the 10-year improvement plan.

“When they say we have to raise your sewage rates if you want properly treated sewage, that’s a false choice. That’s a failure of local government and it’s symbolic of our crumbling infrastructure that we’ve neglected for far too long,” said Whiteside.

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