Network Firm News

Monday, March 19, 2007

Last week, the Federal court in Maryland dismissed a Clean Water Act case against Carroll County, Maryland, represented by Linda Woolf, Nichole Nesbitt, and Ace McBride. Piney Run Preservation Ass’n v. Carroll County, Maryland.

Private landowners sought to impose liability on Carroll County because treated wastewater on isolated occasions during the hottest days of the year exceeded temperature limits one or two degrees. Plaintiffs sought an order mandating the construction of million-dollar mechanical cooling towers to chill wastewater before discharge into the Piney Run.

Goodell DeVries moved to dismiss arguing that any permit violations were being "diligently prosecuted" by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Previously MDE brought an enforcement action against Carroll County and subsequently executed a comprehensive Consent Judgment pursuant to which the County is required to pay stipulated penalties for violations while implementing an Environmental Plan that would utilize a holistic, non-mechanical approach to improve the environmental wellbeing of the Piney Run and its aquatic and plant life. Goodell DeVries argued that, pursuant to the terms of the Clean Water Act, such diligent prosecution is a bar to any citizen’s suit, such as the one brought by plaintiffs.

The federal court dismissed plaintiffs’ action with prejudice holding that the terms of the Consent Judgment reached with the Maryland Department of the Environment precluded plaintiffs’ separate action.

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