Dubuque to settle violations of Clean Water Act

June 2011 Vol. 66 No. 6

The city of Dubuque, IA, has agreed to pay a $205,000 civil penalty and spend an additional $3 million on improvements to its water pollution control plant and sewer collection system over the next three years to settle a series of alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

As part of the settlement outlined by a consent decree lodged in April in the U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids, IA, the city of Dubuque will pay half of the civil penalty to the United States, and half to the state of Iowa, which is a co-plaintiff in the case. Dubuque has also agreed to spend approximately $260,000 on a supplemental environmental project. The project will involve the reconstruction of four alleys that incorporate permeable pavement in their design, which will help reduce the flow of storm water into the city’s sewer system.

Dubuque’s violations of its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit date back to the early 1970s, when its water pollution control plant was built. Along with 165 miles of gravity sewer lines, three major pump stations and eight smaller lift stations, the plant comprises a public sewer system that serves the city of approximately 92,000 residents along the Mississippi River.

The consent decree sets forth a series of schedules for the city’s completion of the various projects to improve its sewer system. All upgrades must be completed within 34 months of the consent decree’s effective date. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval before it becomes final.