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Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results FY2008:
Important Environmental Problems/National Priorities:
Municipal Sewer Overflows (Combined Sewer & Sanitary Sewer Overflows)

FY2008 Annual Results Topics

Problem: 

Combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows (CSOs & SSOs) cause environmental problems when heavy rainfall exceeds the storage capacity of pipes and/or water treatment plants, and, as a result, discharge untreated sewage, stormwater, toxic materials, and industrial wastewater into rivers, lakes, and oceans.  Overflows also occur when equipment, system design, operation, and maintenance are faulty.  Untreated sewage contains high levels of nutrients which cause low oxygen levels resulting in aquatic environments and fish mortality.   Bacteria residing in untreated sewage overflows can contaminate the public drinking water supply, endanger human health for individuals participating in recreational activities such as swimming and boating, and limit access to beaches.  Fish and wildlife advisories often result from bacterial contamination of seafood.   CSOs and SSOs pose particularly significant risks to human health when this activity occurs near sources of drinking water given that the discharge often contains a high concentration of bacteria and pathogens. Bacteria and pathogens in sewage have human health implications ranging in severity from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening ailments, such as cholera and infectious hepatitis.   

Addressing combined sewer and sanitary sewer systems is a national priority for EPA.  EPA focuses compliance enforcement and assistance on combined and sanitary sewer systems that are near public drinking water intakes; endangered and threatened species and habitats; national marine sanctuaries; commercial fishing sites and shellfish beds; waters designated as “outstanding national resource waters;” and where waterborne recreational activities such as swimming and boating occur.  Areas with prior water quality impairment also receive prioritized attention.

Photo of SSO
Photo of outfall

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Key Results:

FY 2007 - 2008 Annual Results
Fiscal Year Estimated Pollutants to be Reduced or Treated
(lbs)*
Estimated Investments in Pollution Control
($)**
Civil Penalties
($) ***
FY 2007 45 million $3,678 million $1.3 million
FY 2008 173 million $2,909 million $0.8 million

*Estimated Pollutants Reduced or Treated is an estimate of the pounds of pollutants reduced, treated, or eliminated during the first year after a facility returns to compliance.
** Estimated Investments in Pollution Control is an estimate of the defendant’s cost to comply with consent decrees through the installation of appropriate pollutant controls.  The value for FY 2007 is adjusted for inflation using the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics calculator.
*** Civil Penalties are penalties assessed, not collected.  The value for FY 2007 is also adjusted for inflation.

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