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City of Portland, Maine will Pay Penalty and Take Steps to Address Sewer Overflows

Release Date: 03/20/2013
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – March 20, 2013) – The City of Portland has agreed to pay a penalty of $53,250 to settle EPA claims that the City did not adequately prevent raw sewage overflows to surface waters from its sewer system. As part of the settlement, the City has agreed to address erosion along the banks of Dole Brook. EPA also previously issued a related order requiring Portland to better manage its sewer system to prevent additional overflows.

Portland’s wastewater collection system is comprised of combined sewers, in which stormwater and sewage are carried in the same pipes, and separate sewers that are designed to carry only sewage and not storm water. On at least 22 occasions over the past five years, Portland’s separate sewer system has overflowed and released raw sewage to surface waters. Some of these overflows have spilled tens of thousands of gallons of sewage. These overflows are caused, in part, by known problems that have developed as the City grows and its collection system ages.

The EPA Order requires the City to correct physical deficiencies and to better maintain the sewer system, to better manage high flows that contribute to overflows, and to stop future overflows as quickly as possible. Sewage overflows carry harmful bacteria and viruses as well as other pollutants and can create serious health risks.

“Because of the known health risks associated with discharges of raw sewage into the environment, working with cities and towns to proactively manage sewer systems is one of EPA’s highest priorities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding. “In New England, overflows from sewer systems are among the largest remaining sources of water pollution. The actions called for in this settlement should result in addressing that problem in Portland.”

Dole Brook has seriously eroded its banks, particularly during large storm events. As part of the settlement of the EPA’s penalty claims, the City will implement a $45,000 project to prevent future erosion along a 1,000 foot stretch of the Brook. Unchecked erosion can impair water quality. This project is intended to help control that problem.

More information on sanitary sewer overflows: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=4

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