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EPA and City of Nashua Agree on Plan for Reducing Sewage Overflows to Area Rivers

Release Date: 08/06/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has ordered the City of Nashua, NH to undertake projects to accelerate the city's program to reduce overflows of untreated sewage to the Merrimack and Nashua Rivers.

Nashua's sewer system, like many older systems across the country, is a single pipe system that collects sewage and stormwater. During periods of heavy rain, this combined system overflows, releasing untreated sewage mixed with stormwater into water bodies such as the Merrimack and Nashua Rivers.

Since 1999, Nashua has been under an EPA order requiring the removal of stormwater from the city's sewer system. The work being conducted under the 1999 plan was more expensive and taking longer than expected. As a result, the city requested that it be allowed to keep the system combined and use other methods for reducing overflows. It proposed treating the stormwater along with the sewage.

Under the city's proposal, most of the 28 million gallons of combined sewage will be treated before it is discharged to the Merrimack and Nashua Rivers and in a typical year with average rainfalls, there should be no discharges of untreated sewage. The order requires the city to take some initial steps to implement this work. While the city begins these efforts, EPA and the city will focus on long-term controls necessary to meet water quality standards for the two rivers.

"This is a very positive first step that will accelerate water quality improvements in the Merrimack and Nashua Rivers," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "The city's work is a great start to dramatic improvements in the health of these rivers, especially after rain events."

Also, much of the stormwater that would have been discharged untreated under the 1999 plan will also receive treatment. Urban stormwater, like sewage, can contain harmful levels of bacteria and other pollutants