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News Releases from Region 01

Settlement Ensures that Lawrence Addresses Wastewater and Stormwater Discharges

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON - Under the terms of a Consent Decree lodged today in federal court to address violations of the Clean Water Act, the City of Lawrence will focus efforts on conditions that result in sewer overflows and contaminated stormwater.

The Consent Decree is the result of a federal enforcement action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The complaint alleges that Lawrence discharged untreated sewage without permit authorization and violated conditions of its permit controlling storm water discharges.

"This settlement ensures progress will be made in controlling major sources of pollution to the Merrimack River," said Curt Spalding, administrator of EPA's New England region. "We welcome this progress toward restoring the River and look forward to the day when it is safe for all kinds of recreation."

"Unlawful discharges of pollutants from cities and towns during storm events remain among the most significant challenges to improving water quality in New England," said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. "By entering into this Consent Decree, the City of Lawrence has agreed to take significant steps to improve water quality, and the quality of life along the Merrimack River corridor."

The Consent Decree to resolve the enforcement action imposes a schedule for the City to develop sewer system management programs to investigate and rehabilitate its assets, minimizing the discharge of untreated sewage. In addition, the City will institute programs to detect and eliminate sources of wastewater contamination of its stormwater system, as well as control runoff from land redevelopment projects.

Preventing sewage from contaminating surface waters of the United States is one of EPA's National Enforcement Initiatives. Municipal wastewater presents significant health threats to those using contaminated waters for recreational use and downstream drinking water systems.

More information:

The Consent Decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Once it is published in the Federal Register, a copy of the consent decree will be available on the Justice Department Web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.