Shelton, Conn. Fined for Illegal Sewage Discharges

A major settlement involving federal and state regulators and the city of Shelton, Conn. will lead to improvements in the operation and maintenance of the city's wastewater collection system and treatment plant, preventing discharge of untreated sewage to the Housatonic River, according to a June 19 press release.

The agreement is between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Attorney General's Office, and the city of Shelton.

Under terms of the settlement, the city eliminated its "wastewater treatment plant bypass" and agreed to implement a comprehensive, systemwide plan to ensure that overflows of raw sewage associated with insufficient wastewater collection system capacity are eliminated by July 30, 2010. Discharges of untreated sanitary sewage violate the federal Clean Water Act and state environmental laws. The city will pay a fine of $142,000, which will be split equally between the United States and the state of Connecticut.

Historically, the city's collection system was combined, handling both sanitary sewage and stormwater during wet weather periods. During the 1980s, the city separated much of the collection system and eliminated designated combined sewer overflow outfalls. However, the city maintained a wastewater treatment bypass to the Housatonic River from a manhole immediately prior to the headworks of its wastewater treatment plant. The city's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit does not authorize discharges from any location other than the wastewater treatment plant's outfall, which discharges treated wastewater to the Housatonic River.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said, "Shelton's agreement is a victory for clean water and public health, halting sewage spills that have polluted the Housatonic River. This agreement means cleaner water, more fish and other wildlife, and more people enjoying this scenic waterway."

Reports provided by the city indicated that millions of gallons of untreated sewage were discharged to the Housatonic River since 2000 – especially during wet-weather periods. Shelton recently completed the expansion of its undersized wastewater treatment plant, pursuant to a 2002 administrative order, and as of July 2007, the city certified to EPA that it had sealed the bypass outfall.