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Waterbury Settles Environmental Cases With $8 Million In Future Sewer Upgrades

Release Date: 09/06/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced that the City of Waterbury, Conn. has agreed to undertake $8 million in sewer upgrades and pay a $350,000 penalty in order to settle a complaint about illegal discharges of raw sewage into the Naugatuck River and improper disposal of ozone-depleting chemicals.

"Resolving this case is an important step forward for clean water in the Naugatuck River," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "This settlement takes into account both Waterbury's financial situation and the needs of the river and everyone who lives near it."

The Clean Water Act complaint stems from unauthorized discharges from the city's sewage collection system. On over 100 occasions in the past eight years, the collection system overflowed into the Mad and Naugatuck Rivers and their tributaries, mostly because of inadequate collection system maintenance by the city, resulting in the overflow of raw sewage through overflowing manholes, broken force mains, and pump station bypasses. Several of the incidents resulted in millions of gallons of sewage being released, contributing to poor water quality in the Naugatuck River.

The complaint also alleged that the city improperly disposed of household appliances containing chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals. The improper disposal allowed the chemicals to escape to the atmosphere, where they contribute to depleting the protective layer of ozone high in the earth's stratosphere.

Under the settlement announced today, the city will undertake a comprehensive evaluation and upgrade of its sewerage system valued at approximately $8 million. Projects will include expanding the Harpers Ferry Pump Station, implementing already-identified projects to reduce the amount of stormwater and groundwater leaking into the sewer system, investigating portions of the sewerage system that have contributed to overflows in the past, maintaining an increased number of full-time system maintenance staff, enhancing the accessibility of the sewerage system by uncovering buried manholes and maintaining sewerage system right-of ways, and implementing comprehensive sewerage system cleaning and preventative maintenance system programs.

These actions, in conjunction with the city's expenditure of millions of dollars on upgrading aging wastewater treatment plants and removing dams along the river, will continue to significantly improve the quality of the Naugatuck River.

Waterbury also agreed to implement a program to ensure proper disposal of appliances containing ozone-depleting chemicals. The city will also pay a $350,000 penalty in two installments as part of the settlement.

The agreement was codified in a consent agreement filed yesterday in federal district court. The consent agreement will be finalized after a 30-day public comment period.