Enforcement

Seattle, Washington and King County, Washington Settlement

(Washington, DC - April 16, 2013) King County and the City of Seattle have agreed to invest in a major upgrades of to local sewage and combined stormwater collection, piping and treatment under settlements with the Department of Justice and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The state of Washington was a co-plaintiff and partner in these settlements.

Overview of Municipality

Both Seattle and King County operate combined sewer systems. Seattle conveys the combined sewage it collects to King County’s system for treatment prior to discharge.

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Violations

King County

Between 2006 and 2010, the County discharged approximately 900 million gallons of raw sewage to waters of the United States on an annual basis through unauthorized discharges involving combined sewer overflows (CSOs), in violation of CWA Section 301. During this time period, the County also violated its NPDES permit effluent limitations, including total suspended solids, fecal coliform, pH, and settleable solids, at one of its wastewater treatment plants, in violation of CWA Section 402. Furthermore, between 2006 and 2009, the County allowed wastewater to bypass secondary treatment at one of its wastewater treatment plants, in violation of its NPDES permit terms and CWA Section 402.

Seattle

Between 2007 and 2010, the City discharged approximately 200 million gallons of raw sewage to waters of the United States on an annual basis through unauthorized discharges involving combined sewer overflows (CSOs), including dry weather overflows, and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), in violation of CWA Section 301. During this time period, the City also improperly operated and maintained its combined sanitary sewer (CSS), resulting in unauthorized discharges of raw sewage to public and private properties through overflow events, including basement backups.

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Injunctive Relief

King County

The County must implement its Long Term Control Plan to control its CSO discharges by no later than December 31, 2030. The County must also develop and implement a Comprehensive System-Wide Operations and Maintenance Plan. The County must further develop and implement a Joint Operations and System Optimization Plan with the City of Seattle, Washington. The County's implementation of these injunctive relief measures will reduce its CSO discharges by approximately 95% to 99% at a cost of approximately $860 million.

Seattle

The City must develop and implement a Long Term Control Plan to control its CSO discharges by no later than December 31, 2025. The City must also develop and implement a Comprehensive System-Wide Operations and Maintenance Plan; a Fats, Oils, and Grease Control Program; and a Floatable Solids Observation Program. The City must further develop and implement a Joint Operations and System Optimization Plan with King County. The City's implementation of these injunctive relief measures will reduce its CSO discharges by approximately 99% at a cost of approximately $600 million.

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Penalties Obtained

King County will pay a civil penalty of $400,000. The United States and the State of Washington will each receive $200,000 of the total civil penalty.

The City of Seattle will pay a civil penalty of $350,000. The United States and the State of Washington will each receive $175,000 of the total civil penalty.

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Pollutant Reductions

KING COUNTY

Through implementation of the Consent Decree, the County will eliminate approximately 95% to 99%, or 855 to 891 million gallons, of the 900 million gallons of untreated sewage currently discharged on an annual basis as a result of CSOs from the County's wastewater collection system into waters of the United States. The elimination of these discharges will substantially reduce releases of microbial pathogens, suspended solids, toxics, and nutrients. The County’s implementation of the Consent Decree will provide increased protection for several impaired water bodies, including Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Duwamish River.

Seattle

Through implementation of the Consent Decree, the City will eliminate approximately 99%, or 198 million gallons, of the 200 million gallons of untreated sewage currently discharged on an annual basis as a result of CSOs and SSOs from the City’s CSS and SSS into waters of the United States. The elimination of these discharges will substantially reduce releases of microbial pathogens, suspended solids, toxics, and nutrients. The City’s implementation of the Consent Decree will provide increased protection for several impaired water bodies, including Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Duwamish River.

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Integrated Planning and Green Infrastructure

KING COUNTY

The Consent Decree provides the County with the opportunity to propose the integration of water quality improvement projects with its Long Term Control Plan through an Integrated Planning Proposal that the County would need to submit to EPA for review and approval by June 30, 2018. The Consent Decree also allows the County to substitute green infrastructure projects for gray infrastructure projects at four of its approved CSO control projects.

SEATTLE

The Consent Decree provides the City with the opportunity to propose the integration of water quality improvement projects with its Long Term Control Plan through an Integrated Planning Proposal that the City would need to submit to EPA for review and approval by June 30, 2018. The Consent Decree also allows the City to substitute green infrastructure projects for gray infrastructure projects at several CSO control projects.

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Environmental Justice

King County's implementation of its Long Term Control Plan will reduce discharges of approximately 433 million gallons of raw sewage currently impacting environmental justice communities on an annual basis.

The City will implement early action CSO control projects in environmental justice communities, reducing discharges of over 13 million gallons of raw sewage in these areas on an annual basis.

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State Involvement

Pursuant to Section 309(e) of the CWA, the State of Washington joins the United States as a Plaintiff to each of the Consent Decrees.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For additional information, contact

Amanda J. Helwig
U.S. EPA
Office of Civil Enforcement
Water Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-3713
helwig.amanda@epa.gov

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