City of Ferndale: Ferndale sewage could lead to suit

The Associated Press / San Francisco Chronicle / February 2, 2002

Ferndale may be facing a lawsuit over sewage.

Riverwatch, an environmental group, said it plans to sue the city over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at its sewage treatment plant.

“The facility has chronic pollution problems associated with, among other things, its antiquated collection system, old equipment and an inconsistent maintenance schedule,” reads a notice filed by the group.

The 60-day notice gives the city time to negotiate with Riverwatch and possibly avoid being sued.

The Clean Water Act allows citizens to sue violators of the act for any violations that occurred in the past five years.

The notice contends the city discharged raw effluent into the Salt River and Frances Creek and failed to report it. It also claims Ferndale had serious irrigation overflows and has discharged water without proper pH and chlorine levels.

Facility operator Randy Jensen said the city has had violations, but nowhere near the number and scope listed by Riverwatch.

We’ve spent astronomical amounts of money to turn this thing around. We’ve been making a good effort, but we only have so much money,” he said.