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Lebanon, N.H. Will Take Action to Eliminate Sewage Discharges to Connecticut and Mascoma Rivers

Release Date: 05/28/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – May 28, 2009) – A settlement involving federal and state regulators and the City of Lebanon, N.H. will lead to improvements in the operation and maintenance of the City’s wastewater collection and transmission system – preventing discharges of untreated sewage to the Connecticut and Mascoma Rivers.

The agreement is between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, and the City of Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Since the late 1990’s the City has been under an EPA Administrative Order that required it to move towards eliminating discharges of untreated sewage from its aging combined sanitary and stormwater sewer system. During heavy rain events, stormwater mixes with wastewater, exceeding the capacity of the collection system resulting in the discharge of sewage from the City’s combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfalls.

Discharges of untreated sanitary sewage to waters of the United States violate the federal Clean Water Act and state environmental laws. They also violate the requirements of the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit which prohibits discharges that cause or contribute to violations of water quality standards. Raw sewage discharges can also carry bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that can cause life threatening ailments such as cholera, dysentery, infections, hepatitis, and severe gastroenteritis.

Under the terms of the settlement, the City will completely separate its sanitary wastewater and its stormwater sewers, at an estimated cost of $30.2 million. The City will complete specific sewer separation projects in several phases – each phase to be completed by Nov. 1 of 2011, 2015, 2018 and 2020. Under the agreement, CSO overflows will be completely eliminated by December 31, 2020.

Under the terms of the consent decree the City will complete an assessment of the its wastewater collection and transmission system’s Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) practices which are further expected to improve the efficiency of its wastewater collection system. It will also closely monitor its CSO outfall discharges to measure the effectiveness of its separation program and will periodically report to the State and EPA on progress in fulfilling its obligations under the consent decree.

"EPA is committed to taking action to bring aging sewer systems into compliance with the Clean Water Act," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. "This settlement will significantly improve water quality in the Connecticut and Mascoma Rivers, helping to protect public health and the environment from the risks posed by raw sewage overflows."

More information:
EPA's enforcement of the Clean Water Act in New England (www.epa.gov/region1/enforcement/water)

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