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EPA Proposes Fine Against the City of Holyoke, Massachusetts for Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 10/14/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner (, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2005; Release # sr051010

EPA, Region I announced today that it has filed an administrative complaint against the City of Holyoke, Massachusetts. The complaint seeks a penalty of up to $157,500 for the combined sewer overflows from the City's sewer system in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The City's wastewater treatment plant takes both sewage and storm water runoff. Due to the lack of capacity, the pipes - known as combined sewer overflows, or CSOs - are designed to overflow after heavy rains, resulting in wastewater being discharged directly into the Connecticut River and other waters.

The overflows that occur in Holyoke discharge as many as 500 million gallons of wastewater into the Connecticut River and other waters in a typical year from fifteen outfalls. These discharges are a major reason why the Connecticut River routinely fails to meet water quality standards after heavy rains. CSOs pose a significant threat to water quality, carrying viruses, bacteria and other biological pathogens as well as industrial waste and toxic materials.

Under Holyoke's federal permit, no discharges are supposed to interfere with water quality. However, the overflows from the system contribute to making the Connecticut River unsafe for recreational use, primarily because of pathogens that are in untreated domestic sewage released to the River during overflow events.

The City has been slow to respond to the series of five EPA orders issued to the City requiring planning and implementation of controls to reduce overflows. Recently, Holyoke missed an extended July 1, 2005, deadline, when it failed to enter into a contract to address its Berkshire Street and Mosher Street overflows, as required by the latest EPA order.

Most importantly, the City also failed to adopt a funding source to complete needed improvements. The federal government has made available some funds through a revolving loan program, but the City must have a mechanism to finance any loans and pay costs that exceed available loan amounts. Issuance of EPA's proposed penalty was prompted by the City's failure to secure these finance mechanisms.

In accordance with the Complaint, the City has the right to seek a hearing on the proposed penalty.

For more information on CSOs in New England visit EPA's website at:

Related Information:
Manchester CSO Web 

Lowell CSO Fact Sheet