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EPA and State DEP Issue Discharge Permit to Marlborough Wastewater Plant

Release Date: 07/30/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON -The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection today issued a wastewater discharge permit to the city of Marlborough that will significantly improve the water quality in Hop Brook and three ponds downstream in Sudbury and Marlborough.

The four-year permit to the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Facility in Marlborough sets new standards for the quality of treated sanitary wastewater that can be released in Hop Brook.

The Hop Brook system is severely degraded, with two of the Sudbury ponds choking from algae. Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of the phosphorus going into the brook comes directly from the wastewater treatment plant. The presence of phosphorus encourages the growth of algae. At such high levels, algae consumes oxygen and impairs the habitat for fish and other wild life and restricts human recreation.

"This effort will help restore the water quality of these important ponds," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "It's well past time to get this job done."

"These ponds are part of the unique and historical character of the Greater Marlborough and Sudbury area," said DEP Commissioner Lauren A. Liss. "The permit that we've issued jointly with EPA will start the process of restoring the ponds so that they can once again be enjoyed by residents and visitors to the Old Grist Mill." Old Grist Mill in Sudbury, one of the most photographed mills in America, was built by Henry Ford in 1929 as a replica of a typical 18th century New England mill.

The discharge permit sets stringent limits for the amount of phosphorus that can be discharged into the brook from the treatment plant. The permit also sets limits for other pollutants, including ammonia and bacteria.

To meet the new phosphorus limit and address the environmental degradation of the water resources, the city of Marlborough will need to significantly upgrade its treatment plant. EPA and DEP will work with city officials to develop a schedule for developing and implementing an appropriate treatment system for the Easterly Treatment Plant. The state and federal agencies also will work together to complete a water quality study of the ponds and to track changes over time.