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News Releases from Region 04

An EPA Enforcement Settlement with McWane Helps Improve Water Quality and the Quality of Life for the Residents of Birmingham

Contact Information: 
James Pinkney (pinkney.james@epa.gov)
(404) 562-9183 , (404) 562-8400

Atlanta - Greenwood Park, located along Village Creek in Birmingham, Alabama illustrates how a green solution can positively improve stormwater management concerns while enhancing the beauty and economic vitality to the neighborhoods of North Birmingham.

The 2010 enforcement settlement resolved more than 400 civil and criminal violations of federal and state environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. In addition to more than $13 million in required compliance costs and an $825,000 federal penalty, McWane had to fund several Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) across Alabama, including a stormwater management project that was undertaken in North Birmingham. McWane, a national cast iron pipe manufacturer, converted city-owned land, which once was used as an unauthorized dump littered with old tires, washing machines and other debris, into what now is known as Greenwood Park Storm Water Project. The park features an innovative bioremediation facility that naturally collects and filters contaminated rainwater before it enters Village Creek.

The significant positive benefits of the stormwater management project for the residents of Birmingham and Village Creek include the collection of contaminated storm water from the 135-acre urban and industrial watershed above the park as well as the on-site stormwater.  The contaminated stormwater from the upgradient watershed is directed to a detention pond, filtered through the earth, collected in wet wells, and pumped through one of two bioswales for further water quality treatment. That flow is either evaporated or transpired by the bioswale vegetation or makes its way gradually to Village Creek. During high rainfall events, the more heavily polluted stormwater is captured by one of the detention ponds, with the overflows being directed to Village Creek. The captured stormwater subsequently undergoes treatment through the bioswales.  The park also features walking trails, multi-use athletic field, basketball courts, a playground, restrooms, other recreational amenities, and two educational signs that describe the environmental features and benefits of the bioswales and constructed wetlands and the value of “green space” in urban areas.  The settlement supports EPA’s goals of protecting public health and making a visible difference in local communities.

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