Shenandoah Riverkeeper files notice of intent to sue EPA

newspaperPublic outcry arose last week over a water ban in Toledo, Ohio due to toxic algae blooms. But the threat from nuisance or toxic algae is not confined to the Midwest.

Shenandoah Riverkeeper has worked for four years to push the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to officially recognize severe annual algae blooms in the Shenandoah River and to begin implementing plans to eliminate them, but has found that it must now resort to legal action.

This week, Shenandoah Riverkeeper, represented by Earthjustice, filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA for its failure to act in the face of this threat. EPA has failed to carry out a non-discretionary duty to either approve or disapprove of Virginia’s list of waters deemed impaired under the Clean Water Act, which was published in 2012 without an acknowledgment of the Shenandoah’s algae problems.

“We are losing hope of voluntary action by the agencies responsible for safeguarding our river and it’s users, and so we have nowhere to turn but our judicial system,” explains Jeff Kelble, the Shenandoah Riverkeeper and President of its parent organization, Potomac Riverkeeper Inc.

Listing would have triggered specific government plans to combat algae pollution on the Shenandoah. Omission from the list means delay in addressing a serious and growing problem.


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