Enforcement

City of West Haven, Connecticut Clean Water Settlement

(West Haven, Conn. – Dec. 19, 2013) – A major settlement involving federal and state regulators and the City of West Haven, Conn. will significantly reduce illegal discharges of raw sewage into the environment throughout West Haven from the City’s wastewater collection system. The agreement is between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, and the City of West Haven.

Overview of Municipality

The City of West Haven (“City”), a municipality within the State of Connecticut, is the owner and operator a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) that consists of a wastewater collection system and a wastewater treatment facility consisting of approximately 145 miles of sewer, 13 pumping stations and a WWTF, which discharges into New Haven Harbor.  The POTW serves the approximately 52,630 residents of the City of West Haven and a portion of the Town of Orange.

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Violations

The City of West Haven violated Section 301 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. § 1311, which prohibits the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States except in compliance with a permit issued pursuant to Section 402 of the CWA, 33 U.S.C. § 1342, as follows:

  • Between 2007 and 2011, approximately 101 sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) resulted in the unpermitted discharge of untreated sewage into surface waters. Another 208 SSOs resulted in sewage backups into homes and other structures.

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Injunctive Relief

The City of West Haven will spend approximately $17.1 million implementing various injunctive relief measures to bring the City back into compliance. The proposed settlement requires the City of West Haven to:

  • implement its Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) Program Implementation Corrective Action Plan;
  • implement a Preventative Maintenance Program;
  • assess the adequacy of the City’s staff to properly operate and maintain the wastewater systems as well as implement the Preventative Maintenance Program;
  • implement a Fats, Oils, & Grease (“FOG”) Program that ensures that FOG accumulations are not impacting the City’s wastewater conveyance system and contributing  to bypasses;
  • develop an Emergency Response Plan designed to facilitate rapid responses to future SSOs and ensure that the impacts of those discharges are minimized; 
  • conduct specific Extraneous Flow Investigations; and
  • implement a Collection System Management Plan.

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Pollutant Reductions  

  • Through the implementation of the Consent Decree, the City of New Haven will significantly reduce pollutant discharges. The injunctive relief will result in significant pollutant reductions: 9,967 lbs/yr of TDS, 6,461 lbs/yr of BOD, 14,658 lbs/yr COD, 994 lbs/yr Total Nitrogen, and 246 lbs/yr Total Phosphorus. 

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

  • Total Suspended Solids (TSS) – TSS indicates the measure of suspended solids in wastewater, effluent or water bodies. High levels of TSS in a water body can diminish the amount of light that penetrates the water column and reduce photosynthesis and the production of oxygen.
  • Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) – BOD is an indirect measure of the biologically degradable material present in organic wastes. High BOD means there is an abundance of biologically degradable material that will consume oxygen from the water during the degradation process. It may take away oxygen that is needed for aquatic organisms to survive.
  • Nutrients – Excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in waters can produce harmful algal blooms. These blooms contribute to the creation of hypoxia or “dead zones” in water bodies where dissolved oxygen levels are so low that most aquatic life cannot survive.
  • Chemical Oxygen Demand (CBOD) – CBOD is a measure of the capacity of water to consume oxygen during the decomposition of organic matter and the oxidation of inorganic chemical.

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Civil Penalty

The City of West Haven will pay a civil penalty of $125,000. This penalty will be split between the United States and the State of Connecticut. The portion paid to Connecticut will be used to pay for environmental projects.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Clarke Thurmon 
Water Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC-2243A)
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-5587 
Clarke Thurmon (thurmon.clarke@epa.gov)

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