Eel River

Protecting water quality in the Eel River Watershed

We are working to control the excess nitrogen in our groundwater that will cause algae blooms and explosive weed growth in the river.

The Eel River is nitrogen limited, which means that extra nitrogen will cause plant and algae growth.


Excess growth and will choke the river with many tons of water plants and algae. Ultimately the fish, the wildlife, and the river itself will die. The 31 rare species found in the Eel River and its watershed depend on clean water for their survival.

The sewage plant in Camelot Park has a permit to dump nitrogen into the Eel River watershed.

Plymouth's new sewage treatment plant was constructed in the Eel River Watershed. And DEP granted the Town a discharge permit which allowed the plant to discharge wastewater effluent into the our groundwater.

Wastewater contains nitrogen, and 85% of the nitrogen discharged into the ground of the watershed will end up in the waters of the river. This is very serious for the Eel River wawtershed and the wildife that inhabits it.

We appealed the permit that allowed the Town to pollute our groundwater with excess nitrogen.

In June of 2000 the Eel River Watershed Association appealed the groundwater discharge permit that was issued by DEP for the Town's wastewater treatment plant.

Scientists from MIT evaluated the permit and told us that the 10 milligrams per liter of nitrogen, granted in the plant's permit, will cause damaging algae to grow in the river. Algae blooms will rob oxygen from the water causing fish to suffocate.

In demonstrating our case, we used the same data that was developed by the town, so that there could be no argument about the data we used. We proved that additional nitrogen in the river will damage the river as wildlife habitat, and that the permit is in violation of the Federal Clean Water Act and the State's anti-degradation regulations.

Over a period several months the Watershed Association negotiated with the DEP and the Town to find a compromise that would save the river, while allowing the Town to operate its new wastewater plant. By the Spring of 2001 the talks broke down. A hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge was scheduled for October of 2001.

After the hearing, a series of motions, counter motions and legal briefs were filed by all parties. The final legal briefs were filed in January 2002. The judge never issued a ruling in this case.

Meanwhile the plant was built and is in operation.

On July 22, 2008, the Permit was re-issued, essentially unchanged, and the town's wastewater plant continues to discharge nitrogen into the groundwater of the Eel River's watershed.

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