Court Dismisses Citizen Suit under the Clean Water Act

Federal district court dismissed a citizen suit filed by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) under the Clean Water Act. The suit alleged that the MWRA had failed to take adequate enforcement action against industrial users that violated pretreatment regulations.

The Federal District Court in Massachusetts dismissed the complaint on two grounds, and the MWRA Advisory Board is particularly interested with the court’s ruling on the first ground. The court ruled that only the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and not private citizens can seek redress for alleged deficiencies in the way a publicly owned treatment works (POTW) enforces its pretreatment regulations. The court’s decision affirms the EPA’s primary enforcement power and discretionary authority.

The MWRA remains committed to providing high-quality services to the MWRA’s communities and ratepayers, while also maintaining the cleanliness of Boston Harbor, one of the cleanest urban harbors in the country. The MWRA has always been dedicated to enforcing pretreatment regulations in a manner that balances the interests of all stakeholders. Furthermore, the Court concluded that the pretreatment regulations in question “do not plausibly require a POTW to impose a sanction in every instance of a violation.”

The MWRA Advisory Board believes that this decision strikes the appropriate balance between the interests of ratepayers and public health and safety, and that it will help ensure that public utilities continue to provide high-quality services to their communities.