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October Newsline: New England Gets Storm Sewer Complaints; Texas Maps Broadband; Trench Violations Mean Penalties
Since 2003, 297 urbanized cities and towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have been subject to an EPA general permit, which sets requirements for reducing pollution discharges from storm sewers. Among other requirements, the communities must produce maps of their storm sewers, pass an ordinance or by-law prohibiting non-stormwater discharges to the storm sewers, and implement a plan to find and remove improper connections to the storm sewers.
The nine communities have failed to meet some or all of these requirements, potentially allowing raw sewage or other pollutants to discharge to their local waters. EPA has filed complaints against the nine communities seeking penalties. The communities and maximum penalties include Plaistow, N.H. ($40,000), and in Massachusetts: Canton ($50,000); Concord ($50,000); Dennis ($50,000); Eastham ($40,000); Gardner ($60,000); Peabody ($70,000); and Winthrop ($70,000). Because Fall River has not responded to a formal information request, EPA is filing a complaint proposing an amount of up to the maximum administrative penalty under the Clean Water Act for this type of case, $177,500. After Fall River furnishes the required information, EPA will refine the penalty amount.
EPA is simultaneously issuing compliance orders to the nine communities requiring each to implement fully a plan to identify and eliminate illegal sewage connections. This includes a requirement to monitor storm water discharges to impaired waters in order to identify the illegal sewage connections.
EPA is simultaneously launching a compliance assistance initiative for cities and towns to give them tools to help identify and eliminate illegal storm sewer connections.
Activities include workshops and webinars; a GPS Unit Training and Loan Program to help communities meet critical sewer outfall mapping requirements; access to the EPA National Stormwater Web Page, which sets out compliance information specifically addressing municipal community storm water compliance needs; and the creation of collaborative partnerships among EPA New England and municipalities to increase awareness of and compliance with stormwater regulations, identify Best Management Practices; and share strategies to achieve compliance on a cost-effective basis.