The Look in Brief

Lawsuit: Cookeville discharged millions of gallons of untreated sewage into creeks and streams

By: - September 26, 2022 4:04 pm
Early morning fog off the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Early morning fog off the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The city of Cookeville is illegally discharging sewage into streams and creeks that feed into the Cumberland River, diminishing aquatic life and contaminating waterways used for boating, fishing, swimming and other recreational uses, a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit environmental group, Tennessee Riverkeeper, claims.

The city’s sewage treatment plant has cited for violations more than 300 times in the past five years, with over 10 million gallons of untreated sewage released during that time period, state records cited in the lawsuit show.

“These violations have an adverse impact on waters of the United States and waters of the state,” the lawsuit, filed in federal court on Friday said.

The lawsuit is seeking a declaration from the court that Cookeville has violated the federal Clean Water Act, an injunction to prevent them from continuing to do so, a $59,000 fine and payment of other costs associated with the legal action.

Laurin Wheaton, Cookeville’s mayor, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.


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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.