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News Releases from Region 01

West Haven, Conn. will Improve Stormwater System under Amended Settlement

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EPA Public Affairs

BOSTON - The City of West Haven, Conn. will make changes to its stormwater system to ensure that local waterways are adequately protected and that the City is complying with its state permit for stormwater discharges. The stormwater system upgrades are included in a proposed agreement to amend a 2014 Clean Water Act Consent Decree between the City, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Connecticut.

Under the 2014 Consent Decree, West Haven agreed to make changes to reduce illegal discharges from sanitary sewer overflows. After the Consent Decree was entered, EPA became aware there were also several problems related to the way the city was implementing its municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) program. Amending the 2014 Consent Decree will help the City consolidate its system upgrades, maximizing the efficiency of their efforts to improve water quality and comply with the Clean Water Act.

In an April 2015 inspection of the system, EPA documented numerous places where the City failed to follow the requirements of its storm sewer permit. In particular, it had failed to: update its stormwater management plan and submit an annual report since 2009; properly monitor its outfalls in 2011, 2012 and 2013; put in place a public education program related to stormwater; adequately map its MS4 system; put in place a way to eliminate illicit discharges; and to review its stormwater management plan to determine whether stormwater from the city's five outfalls that discharge into New Haven Harbor met permitted limits.

"Protecting our waterways means not only stopping direct discharges of sewage overflows from sanitary systems, but also protecting our rivers, ponds, lakes and streams from contaminated runoff by adequately managing stormwater," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "We appreciate that the City of West Haven is going to focus its efforts on addressing both these important programs."

"West Haven's additional measures to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act benefit all of us," said U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly. "We are thankful for each opportunity to partner with the EPA and the State of Connecticut in an effort to ensure and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of this State."

The City has hired a consulting firm to help it comply with the requirements of the 2014 Consent Decree regarding sanitary sewer overflows. The new amendments will make it more likely the City will be able to address all of its stormwater and wastewater management obligations in a coordinated and efficient fashion. The proposed changes to the 2014 Consent Decree are subject to a public comment period and approval by the court. The alterations are expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As part of the original settlement the City paid a total penalty of $125,000. The amendments to the Consent Decree would require West Haven to comply with specific provisions of the MS4 Permit by specific dates. The City of West Haven owns and operates a treatment system with about 145 miles of sewers and 13 pumping stations, as well as a wastewater treatment facility that discharges to New Haven Harbor. The City estimates it has about 50 municipal separate storm sewer system outfalls.

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