Perth Amboy accepts EPA order to end sewer overflow

July 2012, Vol. 67, No. 7

City officials in Perth Amboy, NJ, agreed in federal court on June 7 to make $5.4 million in sewer improvements to end the release of millions of gallons of sewage into the Raritan River and Arthur Kill each year during heavy rains.

Mayor Wilda Diaz said the city will spread the improvements over 15 years.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency said the city violated the Clean Water Act and its discharge permit, issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The EPA originally fined the city $250,000, but that was reduced to $17,000 through negotiations, the mayor said.

Under the agreement, Perth Amboy is to upgrade its sewer overflow system, which collects rainwater runoff, sewage from homes and industrial wastewater into the same pipe.

From the city’s combined system, about 370 million gallons of sewage flow into the Raritan River and Arthur Kill each year, according to EPA estimates. But Perth Amboy is not alone: the agency says 30 combined sewer systems release 23 billion gallons of sewage and other pollutants each year into New Jersey’s waterways.