PFAS settlement to result in rollback in City of Rome water rates

Tuesday, June 20, 2023–8:13 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

The Rome City Commission has approved a resolution regarding a settlement in a  lawsuit brought by the city regarding hazardous chemicals discharged into the Oostanaula River.

The legal action was filed on Nov. 18, 2019, and contends that upstream chemical companies, carpet manufacturers, and Dalton Utilities discharged per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS into the river, impacting Rome’s drinking water supply. 

“32 agreements have been concluded with various defendants, and some who were not even defendants,” Rome City Attorney Andy Davis told commissioners Monday. “There are five agreements still pending. Those will be completed in September. Then I will be able to announce the total settlement.”

Andy Davis

Rome is in the process of a multi-million dollar conversion of its raw water intake filtering facility for “reverse osmosis” treatment to cope with the chemicals. As a result, the city has implemented the first phase of a multi-year rate increase for water customers to help pay for the reverse osmosis facility.

“I’m sure that almost everyone will be happy to hear that there will be a rollback in water rates,” Davis said. “Water rates will be rolled all the way back to where they were on December 30, 2018. Then there is enough money in these settlement funds to pay for costs and the attorney’s fees. The city will net enough to be able to build, operate, and maintain the new system.”

The so-called forever chemicals, widely used to make carpets and other items stain resistant, have been linked to numerous adverse health impacts and break down very slowly, so they persist in the environment for a long time.

City of Rome News Release:

The Rome City Commission has approved a resolution signaling final settlement agreements with the defendants in the City of Rome v. 3M, et al, concerning the City of Rome’s lawsuit over pollution of the city’s drinking water source.

Rome City Attorney, J. Anderson (Andy) Davis, of Brinson, Askew & Berry along with Birmingham attorney Jeff Friedman of Friedman, Dazzio & Zulanas have worked the past four years representing the City of Rome in a lawsuit against Dupont, 3M. Shaw Manufacturing, Dalton Utilities, Mohawk, and many others. While the specific amount of the settlement agreement cannot be announced

subject to the terms of the agreements, Andy Davis has indicated the settlement agreement not only funds the new reverse osmosis water treatment facility and future operating costs, but also covers all attorney’s fees from the litigation.

“Andy Davis took the lead on this case for the city, and he wisely enlisted the help of Jeff Friedman and his firm. Together, this legal A-team has worked an unimaginable number of hours and traveled untold miles throughout the country seeking justice for the PFAS contamination of our drinking water,” said Rome City Manager Sammy Rich. “A settlement agreement in this case represents a huge win for the entire community, but especially our loyal City of Rome water customers as we will be able to roll back the water rate increases that were enacted over the past 4 years, effectively setting the rates at the 2018 levels.

By approving the resolution tonight, the Rome City Commission is able to provide financial relief in water rates beginning September 1, 2023, and has great reassurance about our ability to meet future demands of providing safe drinking water through the soon to be built reverse osmosis system.”

Anderson (Andy) Davis is managing partner of Brinson Askew Berry, specializing in complex business litigation, personal injury, governmental official liability, and class actions. He serves as City Attorney for the City of Rome.

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