Upper Saddle River Files Suit v. Sewer District

January 10, 2007

Back in January of last year, Supervisor and Sewer Commission member St. Lawrence publicly denied, in a number of forums, the sewage spills that Preserve Ramapo presented to the full Sewer Commission. When deposed, he will no longer have the option of his own version of the reality. Maybe he will even finally read the spill reports we offered to give him during that period of public denial.

When Dianne Philipps was invited to come to an Airmont Board of Trustees meeting to provide information about the spills on South Monsey Road, she decided to duck out at the last minute after being informed by Mayor Layne that the press would be present. Invitations from the US District Court will be more difficult to turn down.

Last fall, when I asked engineer Mike Saber to contact the residents of Cherry Lane in order to find out that the spill into Cherry Creek lasted four days, not the half day listed in his spill report document, my request was met with silence. Hopefully, the court, or those lawyers deposing him, will be able to coax an explanation from him as to why he refused to follow-up with eyewitnesses to correct an obviously incorrect report. And what was the reason for keeping the false data in the report and insisting publicly that the spill was only 4,000 gallons not the 2.5 million gallons estimated by another PE who has experience in designing sewer systems?

And there are many other open questions that will now be able to be asked under the weighty legal pressure of the penalties brought for perjury.

The Lawsuit

In a nutshell, Upper Saddle River is suing Rockland Sewer District #1 and Airmont because:

The "defendants discharge water pollution into the Saddle River, and its tributaries in the form of raw sewage, which includes but is not limited to, biological material and other organic matter exerting chemical and biological oxygen demand in the waters; fecal coliform bacteria; nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorous; settleable, suspended and dissolved solids, including toilet paper and sewerage solids; salts; metals solid waste; pathogens; disinfectants (such as permanganate); and feminine products."

What they want the court to do is to grant the following relief:

  1. "A judgment declaring that the Defendants have violated the Clean Water Act.
  2. A permanent injunction directing Defendants to take all steps necessary to come into permanent, consistent compliance with the Clean Water Act, the regulations promulgated thereunder, and its SPDES permit.
  3. Award civil penalties against Defendants.
  4. Award Plaintiff their costs, including reasonable attorney, witness and consultant fees, as authorized by Section 505(d) of the Clean Water Act.
  5. Award other such relief as this Court deems appropriate."

You can read the entire text of the filing here.

Michael Castelluccio