Friday, September 9, 2011

Judge Cox Denies Request to End Federal Oversight of DWSD, Orders Plan for Fundamental Changes within 60 Days

Earlier today, U. S. District Judge Sean Cox  denied without prejudice a motion filed by the City of Detroit in late July to dismiss the 34 year old federal lawsuit by the U.S. EPA.  

Instead, Judge Cox has ordered that within 60 days, Mayor Bing, City Council President and President Pro Tem, and a current member of the Board of Water Commissioners meet and devise a plan to address the root causes of DWSD's chronic non-compliance with the Clean Water Act. 

The parties are to submit their plan to Judge Cox at a Status Conference on November 4, 2011 at 8:30 a.m.

As we reported here, the City of Detroit petitioned Judge Sean Cox in July to dismiss the 1977 federal lawsuit citing the Administrative Consent Order (ACO) it entered into with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on July 21, 2011.

In Denying the City of Detroit's request to dismiss the federal lawsuit, Judge Cox noted that even after executing the ACO, "the DWSD self-reported serious violations of its NPDES permit to the DEQ." 
Thus, the City has not established that the DWSD has achieved even short-term compliance with the ACO and the Clean Water Act. Moreover, this Court concludes that the record in this case establishes that, unless more fundamental corrective measures are taken to address the institutional and bureaucratic barriers to compliance, sustained compliance with the Clean Water Act and the ACO will simply not occur.
In ordering that the City, City Council and Water Board devise a plan within 60 days, Judge Cox noted:
In doing so, they shall not be constrained by any local Charter or ordinance provisions, or by the provisions of union or other contracts. If these local officials fail to devise and propose a workable solution to remedy the underlying causes of the serious and recurrent violations of the Clean Water Act in this case, the Court will directly order a more intrusive remedy.
To read the entire text of Judge Cox's Opinion and Order, click here.

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For more about DWSD Update, click here.

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