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Williamsport Clean Water Act Settlement

(Washington, D.C. - June 22, 2010) The Williamsport, Pa., Sanitary Authority (WSA) has agreed to make significant improvements to its combined sewer system at an estimated cost of approximately $10 million, in order to resolve long-standing problems with combined sewer overflows to the Susquehanna River, which flows to the Chesapeake Bay, the Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

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Overview of Sewer Authority and Location of Facilities

The Williamsport Sanitary Authority (WSA), located in Williamsport, Penn., operates a combined sewer system (CSS) that collects both sanitary sewage and stormwater. WSA serves a population of 56,500 and includes two wastewater treatment plants and 123 miles of sewers, with four sewer overflow (CSO) points, within its combined sewer collection system,
WSA's wastewater treatment plants and CSO points discharge to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay. The resulting discharges have adverse impacts on the Chesapeake Bay.

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  • Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) resulting in the discharge of pollutants without a permit pursuant to Section 301 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. § 1311.
  • CSOs resulting in failure to comply with violations of conditions of permits issued pursuant to CWA Section 402, 33 U.S.C. § 1342.

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Injunctive Relief

WSA has agreed to improve its Central and West wastewater treatment plants and sewage collection system to address discharges into the Susquehanna River that contain:

  • Raw sewage
  • Industrial waste
  • Nutrients
  • Stormwater

It will also make substantial improvements to WSA's operations and maintenance of its two treatment plants and sewer system. The total cost for injunctive relief is estimated to be $9.4 million dollars.

Under the settlement, WSA is required to:

  • Complete Central plant modifications by November 28, 2013, to increase peak flow capacity to 21 million gallons per day, including construction of a new headworks to accommodate incoming wet weather flows of 21 million gallons per day. This represents an increase from the current wet weather capacity of 14 million gallons per day.
  • Complete the Chestnut Street collection system expansion (12-inch pipe replaced with 18 inch pipe) by June 30, 2013.
  • Complete construction of an overflow wet well and pumping system by June 30, 2013.
  • Complete construction of a 2 million gallon CSS storage tank to accept peak wet weather flow from the overflow wet well and pumping system by June 30, 2013.
  • Implement, on an ongoing basis, a unified post-construction monitoring plan to evaluate the efficacy of the controls in both Long Term Control Plans, and whether the remaining CSO discharges cause or contribute to excursions from, or impairment of, uses under Pennsylvania's water quality standards.

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Pollutant Reductions

  • Total Suspended Solids reduction: 17,000 pounds/year
  • Biological Oxygen Demand reduction: 7000 pounds/year
  • Total Nitrogen reduction: 5000 pounds/year
  • Total Phosphorus reduction: 3000 pounds/year

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Health and Environmental Effects

WSA's wastewater treatment plants and the four CSO points discharge to the Susquehanna River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. The discharges may adversely affect the Chesapeake Bay as these discharges include:

  • Viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens
  • Oxygen-demanding pollutants
  • Suspended solids
  • Nutrients
  • Toxics
  • Floatable matter

Other health and environmental impacts from the pollutants addressed in this settlement include the following:

  • 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.
  • Total Nitrogen (Total N) - Total N includes both organic and inorganic nitrogen and is an essential element for primary production. Excess nitrogen can lead to impairment of a water body due to the excess growth of aquatic plants that can choke a water body. Excess aquatic plants on the surface will impede sunlight in the water column and will result in insufficient oxygen in water to support aquatic life.
  • Total Phosphorous (Total P) - Total P is an essential element for primary production and much like Total N, excess amounts can lead to impairment and oxygen deprived waters unable to sustain aquatic organisms.

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Civil Penalty

WSA will pay a civil penalty of $320,000 that will be split evenly between the United States and Pennsylvania and is to be paid in two equal installments of $160,000 which are due within 30 days of decree entry. The penalty was derived according to the Clean Water Act Settlement Penalty Policy.

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State Partners

Pennsylvania is a co-plaintiff in this case.

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Comment Period

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

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For additional information, contacts:

Sushila Nanda
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2243A)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460-0001
(202) 564-4088
Susahila Nanda (