Race Course Must Reduce Bacterial Waste

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office has ordered the Suffolk Downs horse racing track of East Boston to immediately reduce pollutants being discharged to Sales Creek, a tributary to Boston Harbor, according to a May 15 press release.

Suffolk Downs is violating the federal Clean Water Act by allowing horse manure, urine, bedding material, and stable wash water to enter the waterways in stormwater runoff.
The agency issues an administrative order to the Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC, requiring it to make all practicable efforts to cease discharging pollutants to its storm drain system and Sales Creek. The order requires Suffolk to routinely inspect its facility for discharges to Sales Creek and the adjacent wetland and to collect a limited number of dry- and wet-weather samples from its outfalls.

Suffolk must submit an application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation from EPA and develop and submit a plan for interim measures to eliminate or reduce to the maximum extent possible the discharge of pollutants until the permit is issued.

In response to an information request and on-site inspections by EPA dating back to 2006, the agency determined that more than 500 horses have been stabled at the facility for more than 45 days per year. Suffolk also reported that the facility discharges to Sales Creek and an adjacent wetland through several outfalls and two drainage swales. Consequently, Suffolk Downs is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation and needs an NPDES permit for its discharges.

EPA inspectors observed stormwater contaminated with manure wastes and highly turbid, brown runoff being discharged from the facility to Sales Creek. Sampling conducted at various outfalls discharging from Suffolk Downs indicates elevated ammonia, surfactant, suspended solids, biological oxygen demand, and bacterial concentrations being discharged to Sales Creek in both dry- and wet-weather.

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