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MMSD v. Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers


MMSD v. Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers

A federal district court in Wisconsin issued an order in December 2007 dismissing a citizens’ suit over sewage overflows, granting an important victory in this case involving NACWA member agency the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District (MMSD). The court’s ruling dismissed the citizens’ suit on the legal grounds of res judica, finding that the suit was barred by a previous settlement entered into in 2002 by MMSD with state and federal regulators to control sewer overflows. Under the terms of that agreement, MMSD is currently engaged in projects costing approximately $1.1 billion to reduce the number of annual overflow events. The court’s ruling recognizes MMSD’s efforts to meet the settlement terms, and notes that it would be unfair to hold MMSD to requirements above and beyond those called for in the CWA or the settlement agreement.

This decision follows a similar 2003 decision by the same court to dismiss the citizens’ suit. The 2003 ruling was appealed by the environmental groups to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which reversed the lower court and remanded the case with instructions for the lower court to consider additional factors. MMSD unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 for review of the appellate decision, with support from NACWA in the form of an amicus curiae brief.


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