Rate increase coming for water customers in Morgan and Lawrence County

The increase is due to an appeals court rejecting a settlement for a lawsuit pertaining to water contamination of the Tennessee River.

Posted: Jun 4, 2018 11:23 PM

Customers of the West Morgan East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority will be seeing a rate increase of $2 to $4 a month.

According to the General Manager of the authority it's all because of the now rejected $5 million settlement between the authority and the Decatur chemical manufacturing company Daikin.

The original lawsuit stems from Daikin, and other companies in Decatur, allegedly dumping cancer causing chemicals into the Tennessee River.

Tyler Campbell and his family live in Lawrence County.

The rejected settlement and rate increase brings out strong emotions for him.

"Lots of anger. Lots of disappointment," said Campbell.

The water authority customers footing the bill, for the alleged pollution of the drinking water with cancer causing chemicals by companies like Daikin and 3M, frustrates Campbell the most.

"What's the smallest amount of money we can throw at this to make this go away to shut everybody up and get it off the media? Is basically what it feels like the companies are doing," said Campbell.

The water authority told WAAY 31 they're just as frustrated as Campbell at the rejected settlement, because it will mean the rate increase for customers.

The hike will cover the costs the water authority has had to take on to put in the carbon filtration system to get rid of the cancer causing chemicals.

The opinion from the Eleventh Circuit Court said the settlement was rejected, because attorneys for the water authority were also attorneys for some of the people in the class action lawsuit against the companies.

The court ruled the attorney's had a conflict of interest and didn't adequately represent the customers in the suit, becasue they took a settlement that didn't get money for mental anguish caused by the contaminated drinking water.

Campbell is simply fed up with the process and wants to see the companies, allegedly responsible, to step up and do the right thing.

"We teach our kids; you make a mess, you clean it up. How hard is that for a company to do? You make a mess, you clean it up," said Campbell.

The rejected settlement will now come back to the District Court in Lawrence County where it can be renegotiated.

A new settlement could end up reimbursing customers for the rate increase.

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