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The City of Perth Amboy Settlement

(New York, N.Y. - June 6, 2012) The city of Perth Amboy, N.J., has agreed to make major improvements in its combined sewer system to protect people’s health and water quality under a legal agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under the agreement, which was lodged by the Department of Justice in federal court today, the city will reduce the amount of sewage and other pollutants that flow out of 16 combined sewer points into the Raritan River and Arthur Kill.

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Overview of Facility

The City of Perth Amboy owns and operates a combined sewer system (CSS) that collects sewage and storm water and pumps it to a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) owned and operated by the Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA). The City’s CSS encompasses approximately 311,000 linear feet of sewer lines, 4 pump stations, 1,250 storm water catch basins, and 16 combined sewer overflow points (CSOs), eight of which discharge to the Arthur Kill River and another eight of which discharge untreated sewage and storm water to the Raritan River. Both the Arthur Kill and Raritan Rivers flow into the Raritan Bay. 

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The Complaint alleges violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) Sections 301 and 402 in the form of:

  • failure to prevent intrusions of receiving waters into the CSS;
  • failure to maintain and implement a current proper operation and maintenance program;
  • failure to conduct annual inspections of all CSO control facilities failure to prepare, maintain, implement and certify a CSO pollution prevention plan;
  • failure to certify annually permit compliance; and failure to timely comply with an EPA Administrative Compliance Order. 

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Injunctive Relief

The City of Perth Amboy will be required to implement a number of projects to ensure that the City’s CSS complies with the CWA and the City’s NJPDES permit. These projects include:

  • Corrective Action Plan to implement projects identified in an already completed System-wide Engineering Assessment. Such projects include relining of sewer lines, replacement of pump station components, and other components of the Corrective Action Plan;
  • Flow Monitoring Plan for four CSO outfall locations; and
  • implementation of a revised Operations and Maintenance Manual.

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Pollutant Reductions

Because this case does not include documented CSO overflows, we do not have estimates of pollutant reductions that may result from the injunctive relief required by the Consent Decree. We do project, however, that improving and documenting the Operations and Maintenance plan will reduce overflows in the future.

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Health and Environmental Effects

CSO overflows may adversely affect lakes and waterways, and include viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens, oxygen-demanding pollutants, suspended solids, nutrients, toxics, and floatable matter that can harm water resources. Health and environmental impacts from CSO overflows include the following:

  • Total Suspended Solids – 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 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. 
  • Chemical Oxygen Demand – COD is a measure based on the chemical decomposition of organic and inorganic contaminants, dissolved or suspended in water. As with BOD, high levels of COD indicate high levels of pollutants are present in the wastewater that will consume oxygen from the water, and may take away oxygen that is needed for aquatic organisms to survive

More information about all three of the above measures of health and environmental impacts can be found in the Environmental Protection Agency (2004) EPA Report to Congress.

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Green Infrastructure

This settlement resolves operation and maintenance violations. The applicable New Jersey NPDES permit does not require implementation of a Long Term Control Plan, which limited scope of long-term capital improvements and green infrastructure provisions from being included as part of the Consent Decree.

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Environmental Justice

Analysis of demographic, environmental, health, and compliance data for the City of Perth Amboy indicated that it is an environmental justice community of concern. Using various environmental justice analytical tools, EPA determined that approximately 71% of the injunctive relief will be performed in communities with a per capita income under $15,000 (compared to the City’s overall per capita income of $47,782). Therefore, the relief provided for under the CD will promote environmental justice by alleviating environmental harms in Perth Amboy’s most overburdened communities.

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Civil Penalty

The City of Perth Amboy will pay a total civil penalty of $17,000 to the United States.

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State Partners

The State of New Jersey is a co-defendant in this case.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice.


Robert Fentress
Water Enforcement Division
Office of Civil Enforcement
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(202) 564-7023
Robert Fentress (

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