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Long Beach resident sues city over sewers

A resident is suing the City of Long Beach over claims that it has violated federal law by improperly managing and maintaining its sewer system when monitoring leaks from pipes on private property.

The lawsuit filed by Long Beach resident Michael Thomas claims the city is in violation of the Clean Water Act and seeks several forms of relief, including civil fines, a requirement that the city monitor stormwater and discharges, and an injunction from further degradation of waterways.

At issue is what the suit claims is a lack of maintenance, monitoring and repair of laterals, the private pipe connections that branch out from main sewer lines and connect to individual properties.

"These failures have caused leaks, intrusion and overflows of sewer systems, which, in turn, have caused, and continue to cause, contamination of waterways, bays, streams, streets, basements and groundwater, including aquifers," the suit claims.

Gordon Tepper, Long Beach's director of communications, did not respond to requests for comment.

Thomas' attorney, Eliot Bloom of East Williston, served notice to the city on Oct. 17 that he planned to sue in 60 days, which is required under Clean Water Act regulations.

On Nov. 15, Long Beach Corporate Counsel Corey Klein wrote to Bloom asking him to reconsider the suit, given the damage the city suffered when superstorm Sandy made landfall Oct. 29.

"The city of Long Beach has suffered extensive flood damage, which would make further pursuing this litigation difficult," Klein wrote.

Bloom filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on Dec. 24 and he said he could be filing similar lawsuits against other jurisdictions. "On Long Island, it appears that municipalities do simply disregard the Clean Water Act," Bloom said in an interview.

Bloom said Thomas is suing because he is concerned about the quality of local waters.

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