Tuesday, May 30, 2023–11:00 a.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
An agreement in principle has been reached, specifically with Dalton Utilities and others, to resolve a lawsuit brought by the City of Rome regarding hazardous chemicals discharged into the Oostanaula River.
The legal action was filed on Nov. 18, 2019, and contends that upstream chemical companies, carpet manufacturers, and Dalton Utilities discharged per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS into the river, impacting Rome’s drinking water supply. The trial was set to begin on June 5.
Rome City Attorney Andy Davis could not say much at this time about the terms of the settlement.
“All of those agreements have not been finalized and ironed out,” he said. “There are terms and some of the companies have some proprietary information that we cannot really talk about or release at this point, but it is a great day for the City of Rome.”
Rome is in the process of a multi-million dollar conversion of its raw water intake filtering facility for “reverse osmosis” treatment to cope with the chemicals. As a result, the city has implemented the first phase of a multi-year rate increase for water customers to help pay for the reverse osmosis facility.
A new water treatment facility that could remove the chemicals in the Oostanaula River is planned for construction between the Rome Community Center and DFCS buildings on Riverside Parkway.
Rome Water and Sewer Director Mike Hackett would not comment on specifics about whether or not a settlement could mean lower rates for Rome water and sewer customers, but he did say there is a plan.
“There is not a whole lot we can say about it right now,” he said. Yes, we do have a plan, and I think it will be favorably received.”
The so-called forever chemicals, widely used to make carpets and other items stain resistant, have been linked to numerous adverse health impacts and break down very slowly, so they persist in the environment for a long time.
The Rome City Commission has approved a resolution regarding the settlement, which you can read below.