City of Lebanon Meets EPA Consent Decree Requirements by Eliminating CSO Outfalls
EPA Terminates Consent Decree After City of Lebanon Completes Project to Modernize Water Infrastructure and Eliminate CSO Outfalls
BOSTON (Jan. 18, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing Lebanon, N.H. for completely eliminating all of its Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) outfalls, therefore eliminating the need for the Consent Decree established between EPA and the City in 2009. CSO outfalls discharge a combination of wastewater and stormwater to nearby surface waters when the combined sewer system does not have the capacity to transmit all the flow of wastewater and stormwater to the treatment plant.
On November 19, 2021, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire terminated the Consent Decree between the United States, the State of New Hampshire, and the City of Lebanon because the City satisfied the prerequisites for termination by eliminating all its CSO outfalls.
"This is a significant accomplishment. The City of Lebanon's success in eliminating combined sewer overflows into the Connecticut River in accordance with the Consent Decree benefits downstream communities with improved water quality," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "This kind of progress on infrastructure shows how much the City of Lebanon has prioritized the health of their environment by ensuring that wastewater will not discharge into the Connecticut River or its tributaries."
Prior to the Consent Decree, the City was discharging up to nearly 14 million gallons of combined wastewater and stormwater per year from as many as 60 to 70 CSO events. The City of Lebanon completed multiple sewer separation projects over the last decade and, in 2021, because of work done as required by the Consent Decree, the City of Lebanon had zero discharges from its CSO outfalls. The City spent over $70 million to complete these projects and eliminated seven CSO outfalls that were the source of untreated sewage and stormwater. The City took this opportunity to not only perform the work required by the Consent Decree, but to also improve all the infrastructure in the project areas. The City upgraded its water lines, installed granite curbing, asphalt and concrete sidewalks, and performed full depth road reconstruction transforming the neighborhoods and building projects to benefit its residents for decades to come.
"The Lebanon CSO project is a true success story of improved water quality and improved infrastructure," said New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Commissioner Robert Scott. "Protecting our surface waters for future generations is critical to ensure that their designated uses; such as, protection and propagation of fish and wildlife, and for recreation, are maintained. The City's holistic, comprehensive approach is a model for other communities to emulate and this success solidifies why so many people choose to call our beautiful State of New Hampshire home."
In 2009 EPA alleged that the City of Lebanon had violated the Clean Water Act based on discharges from its CSO outfalls into the Connecticut River, the Mascoma River, and the Great Brook that contained concentrations of E. coli bacteria that caused water quality standard violations. EPA and the City of Lebanon entered into a Consent Decree, where the City agreed to continue to implement its Long-Term Control Plan which would result in elimination of CSO discharges from its combined sewer system.
EPA implements the CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program in New Hampshire but closely coordinated with NHDES on this matter. NHDES was involved in all aspects of the projects as it is responsible for reviewing all wastewater infrastructure projects in the state, as well as provided funding through its Clean Water State Revolving Fund which requires project oversight.
Combined Sewer Overflows
Combined sewers were designed to collect both sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff in a single-pipe system. These systems were designed to convey sewage and wastewater to a treatment plant during dry weather. Under wet weather conditions, these combined sewer systems would overflow and often discharge directly into local waterways, causing Combined Sewer Overflows. CSOs contain untreated or partially treated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and debris as well as stormwater. State and local authorities generally have not allowed the construction of new combined sewers since the first half of the 20th century. Most New England cities and towns are working towards eliminating the existing CSOs.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES): https://www.epa.gov/npdes
Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs): https://www.epa.gov/npdes/combined-sewer-overflows-csos