Violations at Wastewater Treatment Plant Result In Fine For Keene, N.H.

The city of Keene, N.H., will pay a $58,000 fine as part of an EPA settlement for violations of the federal Clean Water Act at the city's municipal wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system, the agency announced on April 18. The violations resulted in sewage overflowing from the system on dozens of occasions.

The settlement resolves EPA concerns regarding Keene's wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system. Keene's violations led to more than 30 overflows of untreated sanitary sewage between 2000 and 2005, many of which reached local waterways. Most of the overflows were caused by blockages in the system, which can be prevented by routine cleaning and maintenance.

"By ensuring that sewer lines are properly cleaned and kept free of grease, roots and other blockages, we can prevent overflows and help keep our rivers and streams clean and healthy," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA is committed to protecting people's health by enforcing environmental laws that protect our water, air and land."

Keene's public sewer system includes a secondary wastewater treatment facility that discharges 3.5 million gallons per day of treated wastewater into the Ashuelot River. The collection system is made up of about 86 miles of sewer, 2000 manholes, five city-owned pump stations and 10 privately-owned pump stations.

Other violations captured in the penalty issued by EPA today are for exceeding effluent limits for zinc in the city's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, and the failure to develop appropriate local limits for industries that discharge wastewater to the system.

Keene has been complying with a separate order issued by EPA in September 2004, which should prevent sanitary sewer overflows in the future. Keene has been required to develop and implement a plan to remove structural deficiencies in their wastewater treatment infrastructure. This includes evaluating manholes and collection system accessibility, establishing a plan to restore the capacity of the sewer system (including a preventative maintenance program), an analysis of appropriate effluent limits for local industries, putting appropriate limits for local industries into the city's sewer use ordinance, and other requirements.

More information on EPA's NPDES permit program can be found at http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes.

comments powered by Disqus