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The City of West Haven, Connecticut Clean Water Act Settlement

(Connecticut – Dec. 15, 2016) – The City of West Haven, a municipality within the State of Connecticut, is the owner and operator of a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). The city is authorized under a Clean Water Act (CWA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to discharge stormwater through its MS4 to the New Haven Harbor provided it complies with all provisions of the permit.


On May 27, 2014 the court entered a consent decree to resolve the city’s violations of the Clean Water Act related to illegal discharges from sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). In April 2015, after the 2014 consent decree was entered, EPA conducted an audit of the city’s compliance with its Connecticut General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems issued to the city by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP), as authorized by the EPA under Section 402(b) of the CWA, 33 U.S.C. §1342(b), The EPA audit revealed that the city failed to comply with conditions established in its small MS4 general permit.

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The supplemental complaint alleges that the city failed to comply with conditions established in its small MS4 general permit. Specifically, the city failed to:

  • Update its stormwater management plan and submit an annual report since 2009;
  • Properly monitor its outfalls in 2011, 2012 and 2013;
  • Put in place a public education program related to stormwater;
  • Adequately map its MS4 system;
  • Put in place a way to eliminate illicit discharges; and
  • Review its stormwater management plan to determine whether stormwater from the city’s five outfalls that discharge into New Haven Harbor met permitted limits.

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Injunctive Relief

The stipulation to modify the consent decree requires the city to immediately and continuously implement a preventative maintenance plan, take all steps necessary to achieve permanent and consistent compliance under all terms of its small MS4 general permit, and implement additional reporting requirements regarding MS4 outfalls.  

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Health and Environmental Effects

Polluted stormwater runoff is commonly transported through MS4s and ultimately discharged untreated into local rivers, lakes and streams. Common pollutants discharged through MS4s include road salt, sand, oil and grease from roadways; pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides from lawns and parks; sediment from construction sites; and carelessly discarded trash, such as cigarette butts, paper wrappers, and plastic bottles. Discharges from MS4s also often include contaminated stormwater runoff from industrial facilities as well as illicit discharges of wastes and wastewater from non-stormwater sources. Illicit discharges can enter the MS4 through direct connections (e.g., wastewater piping either mistakenly or deliberately connected to the MS4) or indirect connections (e.g., infiltration into the MS4, spills collected by storm drains, or paint or used oil dumped directly into a storm drain). In addition, municipalities conduct numerous activities that can pose a threat to water quality if practices and procedures are not in place to prevent pollutants from entering the MS4. These activities include winter road maintenance, minor road repairs and other infrastructure work, automobile fleet maintenance, landscaping and park maintenance, and building maintenance. The result is untreated discharges that contribute high levels of pollutants, including heavy metals, toxics, oil and grease, solvents, nutrients, viruses, and bacteria to receiving waters.

When discharged into nearby waterways through MS4s, these pollutants can degrade water quality, thereby discouraging recreational uses, contaminating drinking water supplies, and adversely impacting fish, other aquatic life and wildlife. In addition, an increase in the amount of impervious surfaces (e.g., parking lots, driveways, and rooftops) resulting from new development can impact waterbodies by increasing the quantity and velocity of water delivered to the waterbodies during storms. This can result in streambank scouring and erosion and downstream flooding which can harm aquatic life and damage property.

The stormwater NPDES permit program requires municipalities to develop and implement a stormwater management program that is intended to improve the quality of local waterways by reducing the impact of new development and reducing the amount of pollutants that stormwater runoff and melting snow pick up and carry into storm sewer systems.

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State Partner

The State of Connecticut is a co-plaintiff.  

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Comment Period

The proposed stipulation to modify consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.   Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Sarah Gonzalez
Water Enforcement Division
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (Mail Code 2243A)
Washington, DC, 20460
(202) 564-2841

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