MA City Settles Water Pollution Case

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 @ 01:08 PM gHale

Haverhill, MA, city must pay $250,000 for polluting the Merrimack and Little rivers, said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

Haverhill entered into a “consent decree” with federal and state agencies Friday and agreed to pay a $125,000 civil penalty and stop pollutants from the sewer system from entering the rivers.

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The consent decree also assesses a $125,000 civil penalty for violations of the federal Clean Water Act, Ortiz said.

The agreement resulted from complaints brought by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The complaints said Haverhill discharged pollutants into its storm water drainage system in violation of its permits and failed to properly operate and maintain its sewer system and sewage treatment plant.

Federal and state officials said this will reduce pollution of the Merrimack and Little rivers.
“By entering into this consent decree, Haverhill will take the steps necessary to prevent
pollutants from entering the Merrimack River and its tributaries,” Ortiz said. “Haverhill is required to eliminate the flow of pollutants which will result in cleaner discharges and a healthier environmental for all.”

“We are pleased that, through this settlement, steps will be taken to better protect the Merrimack and Little Rivers,” said state Attorney General Maura Healey. “We will continue to work together at all levels of government to protect our natural resources and our residents.

“This settlement ensures that Haverhill will continue the important work to eliminate unauthorized discharges of pollutants to the Merrimack River,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the EPA for New England. “This is a necessary step toward opening this valuable resource to more recreational use by people who live in the area.”

Haverhill has been under federal orders for years to make repairs to its storm water drainage system, parts of which are old and allow sewage to get into the Merrimack River during periods of heavy rain. The city has made improvements to the system, but local officials said Haverhill faces millions of dollars more in work. They have said the federal government should provide money to the city to help pay for the work.

The consent decree requires the city to inspect its outfalls into the rivers during dry and wet weather and to submit a report to the EPA of its combined sewer system and storm water outfalls.

It also requires the city to continue electronic monitoring of its combined drainage-sewer outfalls for one year and to maintain such monitoring permanently on the more problem-plagued areas.

When pollutants are found, the city must eliminate the flows that cause the pollution. In addition, the city must take action to control runoff from land redevelopment projects.

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