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EPA Orders City of Fitchburg to Eliminate Dry Weather Discharges into North Nashua River

Release Date: 12/18/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has ordered the City of Fitchburg to come into compliance with wastewater discharge limits set out in its federal discharge permit.

EPA New England ordered the city to eliminate all dry weather discharges from its combined sewer collection system as soon as possible and to report on what steps it has taken or will need to take to prevent future unauthorized discharges into the North Nashua River.

"The Nashua River is a valuable resource in the community," said Mindy S. Lubber, Regional Administrator for EPA New England. "EPA's order will help ensure that the river is protected into the future for boaters, anglers and swimmers."

The City of Fitchburg has two wastewater treatment facilities that discharge a total of 20 million gallons a day of treated wastewater into the North Nashua River.

The combined sewer collection system that serves the East Plant, where the violations occurred, has 41 combined sewer overflow discharge points. This plant's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") permit, which became effective Nov. 12, 1993, authorizes discharges from the plant during wet weather, but prohibits dry weather discharges from the combined sewer overflow pipes. According to EPA, seven outfall pipes overflowed during dry weather in violation of this permit.

The Fitchburg sewer system includes both "separated" and combined pipes. Separated sewer systems consist of separate sanitary sewers that carry sewage from households, businesses and institutional users to the treatment plants, where the waste is treated before it is discharged to the North Nashua River. Areas served by a separate sewer system also have a second pipe system made up of storm drains which carry storm water runoff to receiving streams and lakes. Combined sewer pipes carry both sewage flows and storm water runoff.