The Harwich Port, Mass. club had sought a motion to dismiss a Clean Water Act lawsuit filed by the Conservation Law Foundation, which claims that Wychmere’s septic system does little to reduce the amount of nitrogen and other nutrients that reach groundwater and travel into the adjacent saltwater bodies. A similar suit was also filed against the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club.
A federal judge in Boston has ruled against a motion to dismiss a Clean Water Act lawsuit by the Conservation Law Foundation that seeks to impose tougher federal regulations on a Harwich Port, Mass., resort, the Cape Cod Times reported.
The foundation sued the Wychmere Beach Club in August 2018 for what it called illegal sewage discharge that was harming water quality in Wychmere Harbor, the Times reported. At the same time, it filed a similar suit against the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in East Harwich, Mass.
The Cape Cod Chronicle originally reported on the lawsuit last year.
The basis of the suit is the foundation’s contention that both resorts are using a state Title 5 permit for their septic system that does little to reduce the amount of nitrogen and other nutrients that reach groundwater and travel into the adjacent saltwater bodies, the Times reported.
The Boston-based environmental law firm contends this unimpeded flow of nutrients into these water bodies must be regulated under the Clean Water Act, which imposes much higher standards of pollution control than what is permitted by the state, the Times reported. Nutrients such as nitrogen spur rapid algal growth, destroying pond and bay ecosytems and rendering them unfit for swimming, fishing or marine life.
Wychmere Beach Club attorneys filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the resort’s septic system was fully permitted under state regulations and that the Clean Water Act did not apply, the Times reported. U.S. District Judge William Young ruled against that motion on January 10, allowing the case to go forward.
“This baseless suit should be dismissed because the Federal Clean Water Act does not apply to septic systems and EPA has never required septic systems to have a federal permit,” said a statement supplied by a Wychmere Beach Club spokesperson on January 11, the Times reported. “If the EPA took such a position, countless septic system owners in Massachusetts would be impacted.”
The foundation’s suit against the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club was recently granted an extension by Young because the parties continue to negotiate, the Times reported.