(WMC-TV) – The City of Memphis will pay a hefty fine for polluting the Mississippi River and has been ordered to work harder to address other sewage issues.
The settlement was reached after a three-year-long dispute which started with complaints by kayakers and others about more than water rolling on the river.
A photo shows a man kayaking through what appears to be snow on the surface of the Mississippi River, but it's actually a foam discharge from a sewage treatment plant north of Mud Island.
That's just one of the issues the city must address under a lawsuit settlement reached with the EPA and others.
"We are relieved, in the sense of the litigation being behind us, but also in a sense that our citizens and visitors now are going to have cleaner water," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.
Wharton tried to remain positive regarding the $645,000 fine attached to the settlement.
"It's a big number, but don't start hiding you wallets or hiding from the taxman because it's not coming out of our property taxes," Wharton said.
Proceeds received through a recent increase in sewer fees will help the city pay the fine which follows years of scrutiny by environmentalists.
The Tennessee Clean Water Network helped negotiate the settlement which includes mandatory improvements to the sewer system not only along the river, but also in flood-prone neighborhoods throughout the city.
The city could spend upwards of $250 million over the next decade actually making improvements to the sanitary sewer and storm water systems.