CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - A statewide environmental group is threatening to sue the City of Chattanooga for spilling raw sewage into local waterways.

According to the Knoxville-based Tennessee Clean Water Network, the city has discharged hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Tennessee River and Chattanooga Creek from the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The organization has announced that it has given the city a 60-day notice that it intends to sue over the spills.

The announcement comes just days after a power outage at the Moccasin Bend plant allowed 100,000 gallons of human waste to spill into the Tennessee River, killing thousands of fish.

According to the TWCN, the notice cites:

  • 32 discharges totaling 319,000,000 gallons of raw sewage to the Tennessee River from the West and East Bank Combined Sewer System outfalls
  • 489 sewer overflows totaling 35,000,000 gallons of raw sewage to streams, streets and private property in Chattanooga
  • 36 discharges totaling 156,000,000 gallons of raw sewage to Chattanooga Creek.

"Chattanooga prides itself on being a green city and they have made great strides in sustainability," says  Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of the TWCN. "But attention must be paid to the failing sewer system."

TWCN has used similar tactics against the Knoxville Utilities Board to improve wastewater treatment and decrease sewage overflows.  According the organization, their 2004 suit against KUB was settled after the Environmental Protection Agency intervened, resulting in a consent order.  KUB has since worked to comply with the order and has reduced sewer overflows considerably.

"We are willing to work out a solution so that the people of Chattanooga can enjoy clean water in their rivers and streams," says Hoyos. "Though we understand that the current City Administration is working on these problems, recent overflows convince us that current efforts to control this problem are not working. We will not wait any longer."