According to court records, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Alabama Attorney General filed a complaint in the Baldwin County Circuit Court against Daphne Utilities Nov. 16 alleging reporting errors. This follows Mobile Baykeeper’s threat to file suit against the utility in September for claims of unreported sewer spills.
According to a statement from Daphne Utilities: “Once this notice was received, Daphne Utilities’ management reached out to ADEM, in a show of good faith, of its willingness to cooperate with its regulatory agency. The complaint by ADEM generally precludes any lawsuit by any environmental group related to the same issues. Following the accusations by the environmental group, Daphne Utilities’ board of directors immediately initiated an independent investigation of these allegations and to further demonstrate the board’s intent to fully cooperate with ADEM. Daphne Utilities, its board, and its management are fully committed to correcting any problems found during this independent investigation.
In the preceding months, Daphne Utilities has initiated a number of operational changes to reduce the likelihood of sewer spills and to increase accuracy in reporting. These include 24-hour per day staffing at its wastewater treatment plant, upgraded monitoring and alarm systems, as well as operator training.
As a government body, funded by rate payers, Daphne Utilities will always work to ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations and to cooperate with those agencies to correct any deficiencies.
As this is ongoing litigation and the independent investigation continues, Daphne Utilities will suspend any further comments until the investigations are complete to the satisfaction of both ADEM and Daphne Utilities.”
Lagniappe will have more on this story as it develops.