Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results FY2008:
Important Environmental Problems/National Priorities:
Municipal Sewer Overflows (Combined Sewer & Sanitary Sewer Overflows)
FY2008 Annual Results Topics
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.
|Fiscal Year||Estimated Pollutants to be Reduced or Treated
|Estimated Investments in Pollution Control
|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.
- In FY 2008, EPA focused enforcement actions on addressing remaining SSOs and ensuring that municipalities with CSOs are making progress towards implementing their long term control plans. EPA’s actions gained commitments to reduce an estimated 173 million pounds of pollutants.
- The primary pollutant reduced by these enforcement actions is oxygen demanding pollutants. Other pollutants reduced include particulate solids, nutrients, and dissolved solids.
- In FY 2008, Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) committed to greatly reduce its annual discharge of untreated sewage into waterways in the Pittsburgh, PA area. This landmark settlement with federal, state, and county authorities requires the utility to reduce combined and separate sewer overflows causing water pollution by an estimated 22 billion gallons annually which will result in an annual estimated reduction in discharges of approximately 144 million pounds of water pollutants after full implementation of pollutant controls. The upgrades will reduce bacterial contamination of local waterways that endanger public health through outbreaks of waterborne illness and bring swimming and fishing areas closer to meeting federal Clean Water Act standards.
- In FY2008, DOJ, EPA, and the Hawaii Department of Health, concluded a civil enforcement action field against the City and County of Honolulu. This settlement is the result of a force main break that caused a spill of approximately 50 million gallons of sewage into the Ala Wai canal. Contamination from this event resulted in high levels of bacteria in coastal waters, and led to the closure of beaches in Waikiki for one week. The settlement requires Honolulu to repair and replace various components of the city’s sewage collection system in an effort to provide safeguards against similar future force main failures.