Description: Enforcement suit alleging violations of Clean Water Act in which Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper and Key Biscayne resident intervened to request, among other things, that climate change impacts be considered.
United States v. Miami-Dade County
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 05/08/2014 Order Download Order issued denying Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper's motion to reopen case. The federal district court for the Southern District of Florida denied intervenor Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper’s motion to reopen the case, which was resolved by a consent decree between the federal and state governments and Miami-Dade County. The court agreed with the U.S. that the consent decree had resolved the Clean Water Act violations at issue in the case. The final consent decree included higher stipulated penalties for failures to submit timely deliverables and for occurrences of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). The court required the County to submit semiannual status reports on SSOs and on its progress in implementing the improvements required by the consent decree. 04/21/2014 Consent Decree Download Final consent decree entered. 04/10/2014 Order Download Order issued granting motion to enter consent decree. 04/10/2014 Order Download Order issued modifying consent decree. 04/10/2014 Order Download Order issued requiring status reports. 03/21/2014 Not Available Download Supplemental comments submitted by federal and state plaintiffs. On March 21, 2014, the federal and state plaintiffs submitted supplemental comments on the consent decree in which they reported that they had reached agreement with the County to double the penalties that would apply for sanitary sewer overflows and failures to meet deadlines and “submit timely deliverables.” The parties urged the court to accept the option of “heightened reporting requirements” in lieu of the appointment of a special master, which they said would cause unnecessary expense and delay. 03/07/2014 Notice Download Notice issued on proposed consent decree. The court declined to approve the proposed consent decree. The court suggested that the parties submit further pleadings and further suggested that the appointment of a special master to oversee and monitor the County’s progress in implementing the repairs required by the consent decree, as well as increased penalties for failures to make the repairs, might assuage the court’s concerns regarding implementation. The court indicated, however, that “remaining objections”—presumably including objections raised by intervenors as to the consent decree’s failure to take climate change-related sea level rise into consideration—were not sufficient to overcome the presumption in favor of approval of the consent decree. 06/25/2013 Complaint Download Complaint in intervention filed. The intervenors filed a complaint in intervention opposing the entry of the proposed consent decree between the United States and Miami-Dade County. Among other things, the intervenors requested that the court order the County to address sea level rise and climate impacts when developing the necessary capital improvements to the sewage collection and treatment system to provide assurance that sanitary sewer overflows and violations of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit violations would not occur in the future. 06/25/2013 Declaration Download Declarations filed by intervenors. In support of their allegations regarding the inadequacies of the proposed consent decree’s consideration of sea level rise and climate change, the intervenors submitted two expert affidavits concerning climate change impacts and the County’s wastewater system. 06/12/2013 Federal Register Notice Download Notice published regarding proposed consent decree. On June 12, 2013, the Department of Justice published in the Federal Register a Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Water Act, which commenced a 30-day public notice period. 06/06/2013 Consent Decree Download Proposed consent decree lodged. After the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners approved a consent decree on May 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice lodged a proposed consent decree with the court. The proposed consent decree would provide for $1.5 billion in capital improvements over 15 years to Miami-Dade County’s wastewater collection and transmission system, and would also require payment of almost $1 million in penalties and completion of a $2-million Supplemental Environmental Project. 05/14/2013 Order Download Motion to intervene granted. The court granted the motion by Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper and a resident of Key Biscayne to intervene in a government action against Miami-Dade County to enforce the Clean Water Act and the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act. The intervenors had previously submitted a notice of their intent to sue under the Clean Water Act’s citizen suit provision. In their motion, which was filed in January 2013, the intervenors contended that the proposed consent decree “if not significantly altered, is not reasonably calculated to ensure Clean Water Act compliance and is contrary to the public’s interest.” Among other things, the intervenors argued that the proposed decree needed to consider climate change impacts including sea level rise. 01/23/2013 Motion to Intervene Download Motion to intervene filed by Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper and Key Biscayne resident. 12/13/2012 Complaint Download Complaint filed. In a federal government action against Miami-Dade County to enforce the Clean Water Act and the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act, the governments’ complaint alleged unpermitted discharges of untreated sewage, failures to comply with permit conditions, and the creation of conditions that presented an imminent and substantial endangerment. The lawsuit was commenced after months of negotiations among the federal, state, and county governments over a proposed consent decree.