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Release Date: 06/04/1999
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has issued a compliance order to the City of Chicopee, requiring the city to alleviate pollutant discharges from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into the Chicopee and Connecticut Rivers.

The administrative order requires the city to develop a long-term plan for addressing nearly two-dozen combined sewer overflow pipes, which discharge millions of gallons of untreated storm water and sewage into the two rivers each year.

The overflows occur when the city's wastewater collection system - which carries both sewage and storm water - exceeds its capacity, causing untreated sewage and storm water to be discharged through the CSO outfall pipes. The discharges occur after rainstorms and other wet weather events.

The federal Clean Water Act forbids CSOs that cause rivers and other water bodies to violate water quality standards.

"The overflows that we're seeing in Chicopee are a major source of bacterial pollution to the Chicopee and Connecticut Rivers and they're a big reason why both of these rivers routinely violate water quality standards for swimming and fishing after wet weather events," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "The order we're issuing today requires the city to address this problem so that the city's sewage will reach the city's wastewater treatment facility rather than being discharged untreated into the rivers."

The administrative order requires the city to submit a scope of work and schedule for developing a long-term CSO plan within 90 days. Most of the city's 23 CSO pipes discharge into the Chicopee River, a tributary of the Connecticut River. A handful of CSO pipes - as well as the city's wastewater treatment facility - discharge directly into the Connecticut.

The order also requires the city to take immediate action to eliminate two CSOs that are discharging pollutants into the Chicopee River even during dry weather conditions. The order requires that the problems be addressed by December 31, 2000.

The EPA order was issued in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.