Dayton says it intends to sue Wright-Patterson over water contamination

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base


By ISMAIL TURAY JR. | Dayton Daily News, Ohio | Published: April 5, 2021

DAYTON, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — The city of Dayton intends to file a lawsuit against Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Department of Defense in what it says is an effort to reduce contamination coming from the base into the city's drinking water supply.

The city recently informed Wright-Patt and the DoD in a formal letter that it will file the lawsuit within 60 days, unless the base takes immediate action to mitigate the contaminants flowing into the Mad River wellfield by May 4, according to a news release. 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, which the city said it would prefer not to file, is aimed at enforcing environmental laws and obtaining an order compelling Wright-Patt and the DoD to: — Stop the contaminants from entering the city's well field. — Remediate the current contamination. — Reimburse the city for damages and costs incurred to monitor the contamination and reduce impacts on the city's wells and water supply.

"The city absolutely does not want to file this lawsuit," City Manager Shelly Dickstein said in a news release. "This is a last resort designed to spur action in the next 60 days to protect the region's drinking water and hopefully avoid the need to file the suit."

Dayton spent more than four years trying to get Wright-Patt and the DoD to mitigate the ongoing contamination coming from the base to the wellfields and Buried Valley Aquifer, where the majority of communities in the region get their drinking water supply. However, base and DoD officials declined an arrangement ― known as a tolling agreement ― that will allow continued cooperative work on the contamination problem while extending the time the city has to file a lawsuit under federal law, the city manager said.

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