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SELC files suit against builder behind Shelby County subdivision alleging water pollution

The Southern Environmental Law Center on Monday filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Coosa Riverkeeper against Newcastle Homes.

The North Fork of Yellowleaf Creek on May 5, 2021. Photo by Coosa Riverkeeper and included as exhibit in the lawsuit.

The Southern Environmental Law Center on Monday filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Coosa Riverkeeper alleging the building company behind a Shelby County subdivision is violating the Clean Water Act by polluting the waters. 

The lawsuit alleges Newcastle Homes violated the Clean Water Act more than 150 times by  allowing sediment to discharge from construction sites at the company’s 78-lot Melrose Landing construction site next to the Shelby County Dunnavant Valley Greenway, which is polluting the North Fork of Yellowleaf Creek, a tributary to Lay Lake.

“Newcastle is allowing piles of mud and silt to pollute our creek which has incredibly harmful implications for downstream water quality and habitat,” Coosa Riverkeeper’s Justinn Overton said in a statement. “Shelby County communities who want to be able to enjoy our rivers, creeks, and places like the Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail should not have to bear the burden of Newcastle’s pattern of bad development practices especially when Newcastle has had plenty of time and notice to address these problems.”

Water tests showed that Newcastle Homes discharged sediment 12 to 14 times over permit limits, according to the lawsuit. 

Coosa Riverkeeper collected water quality samples on 25 separate days between 2020 and 2022 and found both visible stormwater pollution and excess sediment in lab samples, according to the lawsuit 

The Southern Environmental Law Center in June 2021 told Newcastle Homes the group intendent to sue if the company failed to respond to the matter within 60 days, according to the center. 

“However, every sample that Coosa Riverkeeper has taken since then has confirmed violations at the site, despite assurances that the company was fixing the problems,” the center’s statement reads. 

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According to the center, which cited the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s efile database, the department found stormwater violations at 13 of 15 Newcastle construction sites over the last five years, which garnered the company $39,200 in penalties. 

“Alabama’s rivers and streams are not a free dumping ground for developers who feel that they are above the law,” the center’s senior attorney Sarah Stokes said in a statement. “It is past time for Newcastle Homes to address these violations once and for all.”

Written By

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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