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Hammond Sanitary District Clean Water Act Settlement

CHICAGO (Feb. 3, 2017) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management have reached an agreement with the Hammond Sanitary District in Hammond, Ind., that will resolve long-standing violations of the Clean Water Act involving discharges of untreated sewage into the Grand and Little Calumet Rivers. Today’s settlement will also protect Hammond residents from exposure to raw sewage caused by sewer backups into their homes. The city will make significant infrastructure improvements and pay a $561,000 fine.

Overview of Company

The Hammond Sanitary District (HSD), located in Hammond, Indiana, serves over 170,000 customers in the City of Hammond and Town of Munster, and also provides wastewater treatment to the customer communities of Highland, and Griffith. HSD owns and operates a combined sewer system (CSS) with one 40 million gallons per day (MGD) wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) with a peak wet weather capacity of 72 MGD, and eleven CSO combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfalls located on the Grand Calumet and the Little Calumet Rivers. HSD also maintains and operates 35 pumping stations, nine miles of force mains, and 380 miles of sanitary, storm, and combined sewers (56 percent combined service area), and the total service area is approximately 50 square miles.  

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The Complaint alleges violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in the form of discharges of untreated sewage from HSD’s sewage collection system, including CSOs, to waters of the United States. HSD violated Section 301 of the Clean Water Act and terms and conditions of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

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Injunctive Relief

On June 17, 1999, the original consent decree in this matter was entered by the District Court, put HSD on an enforceable schedule to, among other things, undertake remedial measures by 2010 to address to address its combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and dry weather overflows. Pursuant to that settlement, on October 1, 2015, HSD constructed a 32 million gallon CSO storage basin, and eliminated two of its then thirteen CSO outfalls.

The settlement embodied in this latest consent decree requires HSD to complete a long-term control plan for CSO controls and implementation of remedial measures at its waste water treatment plant by March 1, 2035. Pursuant to the settlement, HSD estimates that it will spend approximately $180 million to implement injunctive relief the next 17 years. To date, HSD has expended approximately $40 million in injunctive relief.

CSO Measures: These measures require HSD to:  (1) conduct proper operations and maintenance measures, particularly of critical components of the CSS and WWTP such as the raw influent pumps, primary and secondary clarifies, tertiary filters, and collection system storage capacity so that the WWTP treats the maximum treatable flow during all wet weather conditions; (2) implement a sewer overflow response program, intended to prevent and/or reduce building/property backups and other unpermitted discharges, including sanitary sewer overflows; and (3) develop long term injunctive relief measures within the LTCP that will limit the occurrence of CSOs at the eleven CSO outfalls. 

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Pollutant Reductions

  • 644,130 pounds of total suspended solids
  • 161,033 pounds of biological oxygen demand
  • 5,072,526 pounds of chemical oxygen demand

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Health and Environment 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.
  • Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) – Indicates the amount of organic compounds in water. High COD levels can present threats to human health including toxic algae blooms bacteria from organic wastes and seafood contamination

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HSD’s State Supplemental Environmental Projects 

HSD will spend an estimated $555,000 on a supplemental environmental project involving the construction of a bike trail through an Indiana wildlife preserve in the City of Hammond, with bioswale drainage that is intended to reduce storm water runoff.

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Civil Penalty

Defendants will pay a civil penalty of $247,500 for its Clean Water Act violations to the United States and the State of Indiana.

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State Partners

The State of Indiana is a co-plaintiff.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, 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:

Sushila Nanda
Water Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (Mail Code 2243A)
Washington, DC 20460<

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