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Wednesday, 05 June 2013 12:58

Tribe settles suit over sewage spills

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The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has settled a civil lawsuit claiming overflows from the tribe’s sewage treatment plant were backing up on nearby private property.

Linda Lambert sued the tribe in May 2011, saying sewage overflows on her property where she lived posed a health threat to her family. Lambert claimed that raw sewage gushed out of pipes and manhole covers onto her property and into nearby Adam’s Creek.

The case was voluntarily dismissed after the tribe reached a settlement with Lambert, apparently solving the problem by buying her property. Tribal Council in January voted to purchase her property for $350,000. The council meeting records said the property was purchased for the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant but makes no mention of the lawsuit.

The Eastern Band is upgrading its sewer system and the treatment plant, replacing old equipment and increasing its capacity, presumably allowing it to handle more volume and prevent back-ups. The tribe is still obligated to fix the problem and prevent overflows due to environmental regulations. The plant was last updated in 1997 when capacity of the plant was tripled. 

In Lambert’s suit, she claimed of negligence, trespassing, nuisance, violation of her civil rights and the taking of her property without compensation. Lambert’s attorney Mark Melrose said he was unable to comment on the case because of terms of the agreement.

— By Caitlin Bowling

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