By Kathleen Jacob

Environmental watchdogs plan to sue the city of Nashville, claiming they’ve let more than 4.7 million gallons of raw sewage into the Cumberland River. It’s a staggering number that has residents disgusted.

The Cumberland River is a staple in Nashville, winding past the downtown skyline and the backyards of Nashvillians like Billy Allen.

“I love the river,” Allen said.

However, the river is turning into a wasteland according to Tennessee Riverkeeper founder David Whiteside.

“Most every citizen in America knows that sewage is disgusting. It’s also a threat to public health,” Whiteside said.

TDEC records show more than 4.7 million gallons of untreated sewage overflowed into the Cumberland and feeding waterways since February of 2017.

“That just bumfuzzles me,” Allen said.

Tennessee Riverkeeper plans to file suit against the city alleging it violated the Clean Water Act and NPDES permit violations by the Metro Water Services at the Whites Creek Sewage Treatment Plant.

“In a perfect system, the wastewater treatment plant would contain all of the waste, but, unfortunately, that’s not happening. Waste can escape through leaky pipes or faulty infrastructure or during significant rain events or flood events,” Whiteside said.

He says when there are chronic overflows like this, the city’s supposed to stop new development from using the line, but that hasn’t been enforced.

“We’re allowing these developers to dump whatever they want and compromising the river,” Whiteside said.

For people like Billy Allen who grew up cherishing the Cumberland, this discovery is concerning.

“All the fish, just destroying something that’s so beautiful and that so many people use. People go fishing, people out on boats, to know that it’s being polluted and destroyed like that, it’s awful, I hate that,” Allen said.

FOX 17 reached out to the city for comment. They replied saying they don’t comment on pending litigation.

A formal lawsuit is expected to be filed in 60 days.

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