Buzzards Bay Coalition files lawsuit against Marion

Dec 20, 2017

The Buzzards Bay Coalition has notified the town of Marion of its intent to sue.

The lawsuit is in regards to nitrogen discharge from the town's wastewater treatment plant.

In November, the town reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain its permit while completing fewer upgrades than previously required.

The permit is required for all facilities that discharge water into the environment. The EPA had initially required that the town add linings to all three of its sewer lagoons to reduce the amount of nitrogen that seeps into the ground. In total, the original upgrades to meet requirements were estimated by Marion Town Administrator Paul Dawson to cost more than $20 million, which would have led to a drastic increase in sewer fees.

Officials filed a petition to review the requirements, and the new agreement only requires that one of the three lagoons be lined, and that the town develop a plan that will allow it to optimize the use of the one lined lagoon to reduce its dependence on the other two.

This is where the Buzzards Bay Coalition has a problem.

“[The lawsuit] relates to the remaining two lagoons,” Town Administrator Paul Dawson said. “The Buzzards Bay Coalition believes we’re in violation of the Massachusetts Clean Water Act by discharging into the groundwater. We obviously don’t agree.”

Dawson, however, didn’t seem particularly worried and said that “it is what it is” and that “this will sort itself out through the process.”

The Board of Selectmen did authorize the use of attorney Michael Leon to handle the lawsuit, who was the town’s counsel throughout the NPDES permit appeal.