Legal Cases

Tampa Bay Waterkeeper resorts to litigation as one of the tools in our toolbox. It's a powerful tool and it works well. Once we have sufficient information we can determine if a violation of the Clean Water Act, zoning codes or other environmental laws or regulations is occurring, we first attempt to work with the violator to bring them into compliance and/or will report the violation to appropriate government agencies. If the case isn't resolved, we will decide how we can bring the appropriate legal resources to bear.

Under the Clean Water Act and some other environmental laws, citizens have the right to file lawsuits against polluters. When needed, we represent our members in bringing lawsuits against polluters when government agencies fail to do their jobs. We may also bring legal challenges against governmental agencies when they fail to enforce the laws they are supposed to.

If you suspect environmental laws and regulations are being violated, contact us so we can investigate the issue.

Trademark Metals

Tampa Bay Waterkeeper joined neighboring Suncoast Waterkeeper and Our Children's Earth Foundation in bringing a Citizens Suit in Federal Court to enforce the Clean Water Act against Trademark Metals, a major recycler and exporter of scrap metal in Florida and beyond. We found violations of stormwater regulations at several of Tradmark's facilities in the region, impacting local waterways in the Tampa and Sarasota Bay estuaries. Florida is far behind other states in regulating industrial stormwater and has an almost non-existent record of enforcement of the regulations that do govern these polluting sites. In the absence of State enforcement, we stepped up. Fortunately, Trademark appears to be stepping up as well, as an industry leader and is working collaboratively with us to resolve the case and make improvements at their facilities. We anticipate a successful resolution of this case without significant litigation.

Please follow this link for the docket entries.

City of Largo

Tampa Bay Waterkeeper joined neighboring Suncoast Waterkeeper and Our Children's Earth Foundation in bringing a Citizens Suit in Federal Court to enforce the Clean Water Act against the City of Largo for historic and ongoing significant violations of its permit for operation of Largo's sewage collection and treatment system.

For years, Largo's wastewater treatment plant has been exceeding its permit limits for nitrogen and other pollutants which have been discharged into Old Tampa Bay at Feather Sound, where, unlike most other areas of Tampa Bay which have seen continued improvements, there has been a decline in seagrass coverage and ongoing problems with harmful algae blooms that are associated with excess nitrogen in the Bay. We believe Largo's failed sewage treatment has been a significant contributor to the water quality problems in Old Tampa Bay and the City's failure to maintain its aging collection system has caused raw sewage spills that have been polluting the estuary and endangering human health and the environment.

Sewage infrastructure failings are a regional problem in the Tampa Bay area. Following successful similar cases against St. Petersburg and Gulfport, the plaintiffs are seeking a judicial consent decree which will require the city to improve sewage infrastructure and clean up discharges to local waters with a schedule enforceable by a federal court.

Please follow this link for the docket entries or you may download a PDF of the lawsuit.

Note: This case has been settled. Please see our Action & Compliance section for more information.