May 06, 2021

Dayton, Ohio, Files $300 Million Drinking Water Contamination Lawsuit

The city of Dayton, Ohio, filed a drinking water contamination lawsuit against Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Department of Defense. 

water quality

The city of Dayton, Ohio, filed a drinking water contamination lawsuit against Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). 

The city is seeking damages of up to $300 million, reported Dayton Daily News.

The suit was filed in the Southern District of Ohio and accuses the base and the DoD of failing to stop water containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from flowing daily into the city’s Mad River Wellfield. According to Dayton Daily News, the wellfield is one of several that Dayton uses to supply drinking water to more than 400,000 customers in Dayton and Montgomery County.

The lawsuit alleges that several PFAS hotspots exist on the base and failure to act on the contamination will cost millions of dollars, according to the city in April. The contaminants impact surface water, groundwater and the soil in the wellfield. Dayton sent a formal letter to base and DoD officials in late March informing them of their intent to sue no later than May 4 unless they agreed to work with the city to mitigate the contamination problem. 

“The city absolutely did not want to file this lawsuit,” stated Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein in a statement, reported Dayton Daily News. “We’ve invested more than four years trying to get (Wright-Patt) and the DoD to agree to take steps to mitigate ongoing contamination coming from the base into the city’s Mad River Wellfield and the aquifer that supplies those wells.”

The Air Force previously declined two tolling agreements which would have allowed continued cooperative work on the contamination problem while extending the time the city has to file a lawsuit under federal law, said Dickstein, reported Dayton Daily News.

In April, base officials disputed the city’s claims that PFAS from the installation is threatening Dayton’s drinking water supply. 

The city is seeking damages that range from $10 million to as much as $300 million based on whether the DoD and Wright-Patt will implement various treatment options to stop the alleged ongoing contamination, according to the lawsuit, reported Daily Dayton News.

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