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Holyoke, Mass. Fined and Will Take Actions to Address Wastewater Discharges

Release Date: 05/16/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – May 16, 2006) – Under the terms of a settlement reached with EPA’s New England regional office, the City of Holyoke, Mass. will pay a fine of $36,000 and undertake a stormwater recharge project at a cost of at least $70,000. The settlement stems from a complaint EPA filed against Holyoke for excessive combined sewer overflows from the City's sewer system, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Under the settlement, the City will reimburse property owners for a portion of costs to reduce the discharge of stormwater to the City's separate stormwater collection system by disconnecting roof leaders and sump pumps from the collection system and routing the water to rain gardens, rain barrels, on-site recharge areas with native plantings, green roofs, cisterns and drywells or porous pavement.

“Protecting the environment begins at home and in our communities,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “I am hopeful that Holyoke is turning the corner and beginning to address EPA’s long-standing concerns about wastewater discharges. Clean water is essential for healthy people and communities.”

The City's wastewater treatment plant takes both sewage and storm water runoff. Due to the lack of capacity, the pipes are designed to overflow after heavy rains, resulting in wastewater being discharged directly into the Connecticut River and other waters.

The overflows that occur in Holyoke discharge as many as 500 million gallons of wastewater into the Connecticut River and other waters in a typical year from fifteen outfalls. These discharges are a major reason why the Connecticut River routinely fails to meet water quality standards after heavy rains. Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) pose a significant threat to water quality, carrying viruses, bacteria and other biological pathogens as well as industrial waste and toxic materials.

Under Holyoke's federal permit, no discharges are supposed to interfere with water quality. However, the overflows from the system contribute to making the Connecticut River unhealthy for recreational use, primarily because of pathogens that are in untreated domestic sewage released to the River during overflow events.

More information on CSOs in New England: .

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