Data Show County’s Wastewater Discharges Violate Clean Water Act, Pollute Oyster Beds, and Harm Watermen and the General Public

Polluted Oyster Beds

Washington, DC – October 4 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) today gave formal notice to St. Mary’s County, Maryland that it intends to sue the County Metropolitan Commission (“MetCom”) under the Clean Water Act for persistent and illegal discharges of raw sewage from its wastewater treatment plant into the Potomac River and its tributaries, PRKN President Nancy Stoner announced today.

Said Stoner, “At least 1.5 million gallons of sewage have been illegally discharged from St. Mary’s County’s wastewater system into area waters in the last five years.  MetCom’s sewage spills have sent raw sewage streaming into surface waters and storm drains, exposing the public to serious health risks.”

Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper, added, “These persistent, repeated sewage spills also have harmed the sensitive marine environment by exposing aquatic life to pathogens and toxic pollutants in sewage.  In October 2021, for example, the St. George Island Wastewater Pump Station unlawfully discharged approximately 25,600 gallons of untreated sewage into St. George Creek, contaminating oysters harvested for human consumption and causing severe illness throughout the area. These spills could have been avoided had MetCom properly maintained and operated its wastewater system.”

The Notice of Intent to sue served by PRKN is required under the Clean Water Act and gives the County 60 days to remedy the violation.  PRKN hopes to achieve a negotiated settlement with the County to improve, repair and properly maintain its collection system and eliminate the illegal discharges.

Naujoks concluded, “The residents of St. Mary’s County should not be at risk of illness from illegal discharges of sewage from municipal treatment plants.  Clean water is a fundamental public right.”


About Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization with three regional Waterkeeper branches: Potomac Riverkeeper, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, and Shenandoah Riverkeeper. Our mission is to protect the public’s right to clean water in the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and their tributaries. We stop pollution to enhance the safety of our drinking water, protect healthy river habitats, and enhance public use and enjoyment.