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EPA Assesses Penalties to Three Idaho Wastewater Treatment Plants for Numerous Discharge Permit Violations
Release Date: 4/22/2005
Contact Information: Kim Ogle
April 22, 2005
Three municipal wastewater treatment plants in Idaho (cities of Emmett, Burley and Buhl) have settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violations of their Clean Water Act Permits. These permits, known as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, are part of the backbone of the nation’s system to protect rivers and lakes from pollution from cities and industries.
EPA is focusing attention on priority watersheds where facilities are discharging wastewater to rivers and streams that are already at their limits to receive certain pollutants. In the case of Emmett, Burley and Buhl, each facility received several warnings, both written and verbal, during the past several years.
Violations at the plants routinely exceeded their permit limits for total suspended solids, fecal coliform bacteria, chlorine, biological oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids, (TSS) ammonia and pH. High-levels of these pollutants can harm or kill aquatic life, and make people ill if polluted water is ingested.
According to Jim Werntz, EPA’s Idaho Operations Office Director, “small communities have a responsibility to manage their wastewater treatment systems so that rivers and streams are protected from pollution.” He added, “This is especially important when the plants discharge into rivers that are already degraded by pollution caused by upstream users.”
City of Emmett (Penalty $62,000)
- The City of Emmett’s wastewater treatment facility serves a population of approximately 5,500 and discharges to the Payette River.
- The state of Idaho determined that portion of the River does not meet state water quality standards for bacteria, nutrients and temperature.
- The pollutants exceeding the permit limit are: total suspended solids, ammonia, pH and chlorine.
City of Buhl (Penalty $38,000)
- Buhl’s wastewater treatment facility serves a population of approximately 3,985 and discharges to Mud Creek which is a tributary to the Snake River.
- The state of Idaho found that this portion of the Snake River is impaired for bacteria, sediment and nutrients.
- The pollutants exceeding the permit limit are: fecal coliform bacteria, bod and total chlorine total suspended solids, ammonia, pH, and chlorine.
City of Burley (Penalty $45,000)
- The City of Burley’s wastewater treatment facility serves a population of approximately 9,316 and discharges to the Snake River.
- The state of Idaho determined that this section is impaired and not meeting the state water quality standards for bacteria, nutrients, and temperature.
- The pollutants exceeding the permit limit are: TSS, BOD, ammonia, pH, chlorine, and BOD and TSS removal.
- Region 10 Wastewater Discharge Permits (yosemite.epa.gov/r10/water.nsf/NPDES+Permits/Permits+Homepage)