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Bristol Township Clean Water Act Settlement

PHILADELPHIA (September 27, 2010) - Bristol Township agreed to resolve allegations by the United States and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that the township violated federal and state water pollution control laws and regulations at its water treatment works in Bucks County, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. As part of the settlement, the township agreed to pay a civil penalty of $226,000 for the violations that have already occurred. The consent decree provides for stipulated penalties to accrue in the coming months if violations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit continue. Both the civil penalty and the stipulated penalties are divided evenly between the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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Overview of Sewer Authority and Facility Location

Bristol Township (Bristol) is located in southeastern Pennsylvania and has a population of approximately 55,000. Bristol owns and operates a separate sanitary sewer system, including the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Effluent is discharged to the Delaware River. While the majority of the wastewater in the collection system is treated at Bristol's WWTP, some of it is conveyed to treatment plants is the largest oil field in North America and one of the oldest on the North Slope.

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  • Sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) resulting in the discharge of pollutants without a permit and, thus, violating Section 301 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. § 1311.
  • Failure to comply with conditions of a permit issued pursuant to CWA Section 402, 33 U.S.C. § 1342.

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Injunctive Relief

Bristol has agreed to improve its WWTP and sewage collection system. Under the consent decree, Bristol must assess its sewer system, implement interim system improvements, develop and implement a detailed management, operations and maintenance program, formulate a corrective action plan to address the problems, and implement the remedial measures in a timely manner. All remedial measures, including any necessary capital improvements, shall be fully implemented no later than January 2015. The only exception to this date is the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system installation, which starts within one year of lodging the decree and begins with priority monitoring locations. The SCADA work may take up to 10 years to complete.

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Pollutants Reductions
  • Total Suspended Solids - 136,985 lbs/year
  • Biological Oxygen Demand - 182,646 lbs/year

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Health and Environmental Effects
  • Total Suspended Solids (TSS) - TSS indicates the measure of suspended solids in wastewater, effluent or water bodies. High levels of TSS in a water body can diminish the amount of light that penetrates the water column and reduce photosynthesis and the production of oxygen.
  • Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) - BOD is an indirect measure of the biologically degradable material present in organic wastes. High BOD means there is an abundance of biologically degradable material that will consume oxygen from the water during the degradation process. It may take away oxygen that is needed for aquatic organisms to survive.

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Civil Penalty

Bristol will pay a civil penalty of $226,000 that will be split evenly between the United States and Pennsylvania. The penalty was derived according to the Clean Water Act Settlement Penalty Policy.

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State Partner

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a co-plaintiff.

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For more information, contact:

Carol DeMarco
Water Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-2412
Carol DeMarco (

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