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EPA Announces Order Requiring Holyoke to Fix High-Priority CSO Discharges

Release Date: 12/19/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced an administrative order that would require the City of Holyoke to take immediate action to reduce the sewage now overflowing into the Connecticut River, even during dry weather.

The order specifically requires the city to remove flow from Green Brook into the sewer system, thereby increasing the capacity of the system and eliminating all dry weather overflows from two Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) pipes into the Connecticut River.

"CSO discharges add significant pollution to waterways across New England," said Mindy S. Lubber, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "It is simply unacceptable that conditions like those in Holyoke still exist. This order will begin the work of eliminating the most egregious discharges from Holyoke's system into the Connecticut River."

CSOs are sewer systems that were designed to carry sewage and storm water in the same pipe to a sewage treatment plant. Due to their lack of capacity, CSOs pipes are designed to overflow after heavy rain events, resulting in wastewater being discharged directly into such waterways as the Connecticut River.

In the case of Holyoke, its 15 CSOs discharge an estimated 700 to 850 million gallons of wastewater a year into the Connecticut River. These discharges are a major reason why the Connecticut River routinely violates water quality standards after heavy rains.

Holyoke is among more than half a dozen cities on the Lower Connecticut River facing severe CSO problems. Springfield and Chicopee are under compliance orders for reducing their CSO discharges, while the communities of Agawam, West Springfield, Ludlow and South Hadley have already eliminated their CSOs or are close to eliminating them.

The EPA and Holyoke are continuing discussions on a long-term plan for addressing the remaining CSOs in Holyoke. EPA issued this order after reviewing the city's long-term plan and determining which improvements were most critical.