Earlier this week, Centreville Citizens for Change and 24 residents of a newly merged Metro East community in the city of Centreville, Illinois filed a federal lawsuit against the city over claims that it violated the Clean Water Act when it allowed “wastewater to continue to flow into area creeks and rivers.” The plaintiffs are demanding a permanent fix to the broken sewage and drainage system. Additionally, the suit is seeking “compensation to cover damage to homes as well as infrastructure repairs to address the flooding and sewage issues that have plagued some neighborhoods for decades.”
When commenting on the suit, resident Yvette Lyles, 62, said:
“It’s horrendously inhumane for any human being to live with contaminated water coming into their home…Whatever comes out of the drain comes into our house, comes into our crawl space.”
Other residents said they get nervous and scared whenever it rains. Lyles noted, “We can no longer live like this anymore. It’s unacceptable…Do what you say you are going to do.”
This is the second lawsuit filed by city residents. The first was filed about a year ago by two residents “seeking immediate fixes to prevent further damage to their homes.” To this day, their demands have not been met.
The lawsuit is the second filed by residents of the former city of Centreville, which formally merged in May with neighbors Cahokia and Alorton to form the new city of Cahokia Heights.
Earlier this year, the city of Centreville formally merged with the neighboring towns of Cahokia and Alorton to form the new city of Cahokia Heights. When voters approved that merger, they also “approved the dissolution of the sewer utility Commonfields of Cahokia and creation of the new Cahokia Heights sewer department.” However, residents argue “that nothing has been done to repair the damaged pump stations that are supposed to move sewage to treatment plants.” To make matters worse, the “drainage ditches for stormwater also remain clogged, causing water to mix with sewage and seep into the ground and waterways…and residents say they are still being billed by Commonfields of Cahokia, which has not completed the process of dissolving,” according to the suit.
Resident Mary Anthony, 62, chimed in and said, “I thought things were going to be different (after the merger), that we were going to see a change. We have not seen change.” Anthony has lived in Centreville since she was 15 and her mother, 87, is still living in the house she grew up in. Unfortunately, the foundation for her house is “rotting away and animals are making their way in.” So far, Anthony has spent a whopping $12,000 to try and keep water out of her basement. She said, “We need help. We need someone to fix this problem.”
When commenting on the suit, Debbie Chizewer, an attorney with Earthjustice, a national nonprofit environmental law organization, said, “We will fight until the flow of raw sewage stops.” Her organization helped to file the most recent lawsuit.