Artesian Utility Company, Inc., responsible for treating the sewage that is produced from the Lake Ramsay subdivision, continues to discharge pollutants, including fecal matter, into the Little Tchefuncte River on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. Over a year ago, GRN and the Little Tchefuncte River Association filed suit against Artesian for failure to comply with their permit under the Clean Water Act and discharging excessive pollutants into the river. In a settlement, the Judge ordered that Artesian comply with the permit, but Artesian has continued to discharge pollutants into the river since the judgment. Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, our council, asked the Judge to find Artesian in contempt of the court order to comply with the permit. Artesian is still exceeding the limits allowed in their discharges of chlorine and fecal coliform into the Little Tchefuncte River. Witnesses testified their quality of life has been negatively affected due to Artesian’s continuous pollution of the river. Both witnesses talked about their inability to swim and fish in the river because of pollution. According to one of the witnesses, the bottom of the river is all “sludge” when it used to be white sand. Matthew Allen, president of the Little Tchefuncte River Association and resident of the area testified he and his family also have not been able to participate in family traditions that involve the river, such as jumping in it at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Artesian argues they have upgraded their system, increased their “housekeeping” endeavors, and have added additional filtering to rectify the situation. David Guidry, owner of Artesian, stated he is trying to be proactive and fix the problem, but the truth is they haven’t done enough and have continuously violated their permit under the Clean Water Act and Judge Brown’s court order for compliance.
The hearing ended on Wednesday, February 4 and both sides are expected to submit closing briefs and arguments to the judge this week. We will keep you posted on Judge Brown’s ruling.
Bryan Clarey is a Media and Communications Intern with GRN.