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Federal Government Sues PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas for Clean Water Act Violations; PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas Face Substantial Penalties for Unlawful Discharges of Raw Sewage throughout the Island
Release Date: 05/30/2001
|(01060) San Juan, Puerto Rico – Sewage pump station failures still result in thousands of gallons of raw sewage spewing into streets and waterways across the Island. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), acting on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), today filed a lawsuit in federal court charging the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) and Compaņia de Aguas, a PRASA contractor that has day-to-day control over the operations of the sewage treatment system, with numerous violations of the federal Clean Water Act. In its complaint, the federal government demands that PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas assess each pump station in Puerto Rico to identify deficiencies and develop a comprehensive operation and maintenance plan to address the deficiencies and to bring each of PRASA’s pump station facilities into immediate compliance with the Clean Water Act.
"Raw sewage is a public health threat and the periodic pump station break downs are not acceptable," said William M. Muszynski, Acting EPA Regional Administrator. "EPA wants PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas to implement an island-wide operation and maintenance assessment program so future raw sewage discharges are avoided."
According to a lawsuit filed today in federal Court in San Juan, PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas have failed to properly maintain and operate many of its pump stations across the Island. PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas operate approximately 520 pump stations throughout Puerto Rico. The complaint specifically alleges violations in at least 30 pump stations, which have discharged raw sewage into creeks, rivers, and the oceans of Puerto Rico. The chronic and systemic lack of proper operation and maintenance of the pump stations across the island have resulted in operational failures, constituting violations of the permits issued to PRASA for its wastewater treatment plants and of the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the discharge of pollutants into waterways of the U.S. without a permit. The federal government is specifically citing PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas for violations at:
Colinas de Monte Carlo Pump Station in Rio Piedras
The federal government is demanding full compliance with the Clean Water Act at these and all pump stations, the development of an island-wide operations and maintenance plan for all of PRASA’s pump stations, and civil penalties of up to $27,500 per day for each violation. EPA has met with PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas repeatedly to discuss this matter. PRASA and Compaņia de Aguas have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.