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Settlement with Dothan, Ala., Resolves City’s Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 07/15/2014
Contact Information: Dawn Harris Young, (404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main), harris-young.dawn@epa.gov

ATLANTA – The City of Dothan will pay a $264,000 civil penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) under a settlement reached today with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the State of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). The violations included unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and other permit violations. To come into compliance with the CWA, Dothan previously agreed to undertake improvements to its wastewater treatment and collection system as part of a separate EPA administrative enforcement action.

“Bringing systems like Dothan’s into compliance is one of EPA's top enforcement priorities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney. “This settlement sends a strong message to other municipalities across the Southeast to correct sewer overflows and protect residents from exposure to raw sewage and other contamination.”

The settlement resolves Dothan’s liability for numerous sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits as a result of its failure to properly operate and maintain its wastewater treatment plants and wastewater collection system. Dothan’s SSOs have primarily discharged into Beaver and Cypress Creeks, both of which are on Alabama’s list of impaired waters.

In 2012, EPA negotiated an Administrative Order on Consent with Dothan that required the City to implement capacity, management, operation and maintenance programs for its wastewater system to come into compliance with the CWA and its NPDES permits. While negotiations were pending, Dothan decommissioned its Beaver Creek WWTP and began sending all of its flow to the newly upgraded Little Choctowhatchee WWTP in 2011. This significant capital project addressed a significant cause of Dothan’s SSOs.

Keeping raw sewage out of the waters of the United States is one of the EPA’s national enforcement initiatives. The initiative focuses on reducing SSOs, which can present a significant threat to human health and the environment. These reductions are accomplished by obtaining municipalities’ commitments to implement timely, affordable solutions to these problems.

The joint settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and is awaiting final court approval. A copy is available on the Department of Justice website at: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

More information on EPA’s national enforcement initiative is available at: www.epa.gov/compliance/data/planning/initiatives/2011sewagestormwater.html

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