Alderman's response to Tennessee Riverkeepers filing suit against the city

Tennessee Riverkeeper, Inc. filed a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act (CWA), against the City of Manchester for violations of the CWA and Manchester’s pollution discharge permit. 

Manchester Aldermen Ryan French released the following statement:

"By now you know that Tennessee Riverkeeper, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the city of Manchester citing violations of the Clean Water Act. With that being said, I wanted to provide a little context on the issue from my perspective as an alderman.

The Manchester sewer system is old, and quite frankly before Director Bryan Pennington came along, issues with overflowing manholes went on for decades without being appropriately addressed. In conversations with Director Pennington, correcting overflow issues has not only been a top priority of the department under his leadership, but it is been one of the primary focuses of investments for the department

When Pennington became Director of Manchester Water & Sewer nearly 23 years ago, the city had 20 plus overflow issues within the system. By 2013 manhole overflows were reduced to just 9 chronic manholes and today that number is down to just 5 out of the city's 2,000 or so total manholes.

Since 2011 the city has committed over $13.9 million to expand and rehabilitate the waster water treatment plant. Since 2014 the city has spent an additional $9.7 million in rehabbing the sewer system itself. In fact, the previous $5 million investment into sewer rehab was primarily focused on the remaining overflow issues. With an additional $158,000 slated for two sewer pumping station rehab projects that will be presented for a vote next month.

I have a great deal of respect for companies like Tennessee Riverkeeper, Inc keeping the thumb on the pulse of issues across the state of Tennessee and holding cities accountable for our environment. However, I do think it should be noted that not only has Manchester acknowledged the issue, we have made correcting it a top priority. That prioritization has been backed up with significant investments and progress, not just words."