Effluent flap seems destined for court

The latest move in the chess match between the City of Custer and Preserve French Creek, Inc., was completed at the March 8 meeting of the Custer County Commission. It was at that meeting Preserve French Creek presented the commission with enough signatures to put on the June ballot an initiative that, if passed by county voters, would see any effluent dumped into French Creek or its tributaries deemed a county nuisance. This, of course, was directly aimed at the city, which is well down the road in its plan to discharge its treated effluent into French Creek as part of its wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
The City of Custer and Preserve French Creek are at odds over this particular part of the city’s project (Preserve French Creek has made it clear they are not opposed to the city’s wastewater plant upgrade, only the part where the effluent discharge is moved from Flynn Creek to French Creek) and have already tried a variety of avenues to have it stopped, with the petition being the latest attempt.
To us, this all seems like it is taking a winding road to court.
The Custer County Commission has made it clear to Preserve French Creek that while it would be happy to monitor the discharge and hold the city’s feet to the fire should any contamination happen, it does not have the authority to stop the project, which was permitted by the state. For its part, Preserve French Creek has taken issue with a variety of parts of the process the city followed, saying while it may not have followed the letter of the law it was the bare minimum effort—or no effort—in keeping landowners below the proposed discharge location informed.
Even if the initiative passes with county voters, it may not mean anything. Whether the county could even enforce the nuisance ordinance is being debated, with Custer County State’s Attorney Tracy Kelley telling the commission she had doubts it could be enforced, saying she believed the state permitting the project—and even some federal laws—meant that any nuisance ordinance the county enacted would be overruled by the state. In short, the state would be Chevy Chase and the county John Candy in a reenactment from the scene in from “National Lampoons Vacation” where Chase forces the Griswolds’ way into the closed Wally World.
“The moose says you’re closed.....I say you’re open.”
The city has made it clear it’s not backing off its stance it did everything by the book and is moving ahead. Construction on the line to French Creek is well underway, much to the chagrin of Preserve French Creek.
Just how far Preserve French Creek wants to take things is unknown, but it seems to us the group has pretty much exhausted all of its options outside of a court order.
Both sides are dug in, and we aren’t sure where the end game is. It could be a courtroom, with that outcome unknown other than a lot of spent dollars.

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