Group files lawsuit over sewage allegation

Resident says pollutants are discharged onto his property, into Casselman River

An environmental action group from Pittsburgh has filed a federal lawsuit in Johnstown on behalf of a Somerset County property owner who claims raw sewage is being discharged through his property into the nearby Casselman River and its tributaries.

The Casselman River is a 56-mile tributary of the Youghiogheny River.

The citizen lawsuit, brought by Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, is asking Summit Township, which abuts Meyersdale Borough, to take steps to clean up a situation that was aggravated in 2015 when a 900-foot stretch of ditch along Mount Davis Road, that carried stormwater and sewage, was filled with gravel as part of a joint township-PennDOT maintenance project.

Grant Tressler of 7974 Mount Davis Road contends that stormwater run-off and raw sewage now are discharged daily onto property he has owned for seven years.

The discharge, which was “characterized by a foul smell and are believed to include E. Coli and other pollutants,” eventually ends up in the Casselman River, which runs along Tressler’s property line, and in groundwater.

Attorney Rose K. Monahan for the environmental group is asking the U.S. District Court in Johnstown to issue a preliminary injunction against the township from discharging raw sewage into the river and wants remedial action to clean up damage.

She called the situation a “huge problem.”

Tressler has been before the board of supervisors on many occasions asking that something be done.

The lawsuit stated that Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has taken no action to alleviate the problem.

The township is being represented by attorney Kevin J. Garber of the Pittsburgh law firm of Babst Calland.

Garber, who has a doctorate in ecology and a law degree from Duquesne, is still studying the legal claims and said he will soon file an answer to the lawsuit.

The supervisors did not respond to a request for comment.