Local Water and Sewer Authority Reaches Clean Water Act Violations By-law

The water flows in a stream.

The federal and state governments have settled a Clean Water Act violation lawsuit with the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority.

The lawsuit involved violations of “sanitary sewer overflows – usually in the form of sewage overflowing from manholes – and operation and maintenance violations under its state-issued permits,” according to the prosecutor. American of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Arbittier Williams.

Authorities say the federal government and state government filed a proposed consent order to resolve the lawsuit at the same time they filed a lawsuit.

The Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority accepted the proposed consent order. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by a federal judge.

“The Authority will pay a fine of $ 450,000 and will be required to devote substantial resources to assessing and upgrading its sewer systems as part of the decree,” federal authorities said.

“In addition to the financial penalty, the Authority has agreed to assess its collection system and adopt extensive measures to ensure compliance with federal and state requirements. These measures include monitoring water flow; modeling of the collection system; conduct influx and infiltration assessments; identify and remedy hydraulic capacity limitations; fight against illegal sewer connections; and improving its overall operation and maintenance program, ”the federal authorities added.

As part of the settlement, the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority did not accept responsibility for the alleged violations.

The Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority operates water and sewer systems throughout the county, including the Levittown area.

“Authority service areas have historically suffered from sanitary sewer overflows, more than 100 of which have occurred in Plumstead Township since 2014. During this period, several overflows have also occurred in Bensalem, Richland , Doylestown Borough, Middletown, Upper Dublin and New Hope-Solebury, ”federal officials said.

“It’s no secret that many communities in the United States are struggling with issues caused by aging infrastructure, especially here on the East Coast which employs some of the older systems. However, there are ways to manage and resolve these issues in order to keep our environment and property safe. Here, this consent decree will dramatically reduce the problem of sewage on the streets, basements, waterways of Bucks County and beyond, ”said Williams, senior federal prosecutor and regional attorney for the US Department. of Justice. “We thank the Authority for working together to reach this resolution, which will surely improve public health and the quality of the environment.”

“Protecting the air, land and water from pollution, while ensuring the health and safety of our citizens is the very mission of our agency,” said Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. Pennsylvania environment. “This is exactly what we are accomplishing through this coordinated and cooperative effort, not only with our federal partners at the EPA, but also with the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority. “

Federal officials said the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority had cooperated with the investigation.

Below is a statement from the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority:

The Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority (“BCSWA”) has entered into a Consent Order with the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding sanitary sewer overflows in its service area. BCSWA has reviewed a newly issued Federal Government press release in which the United States notes that it is pleased that BCSWA has agreed to take significant steps to modernize its sewage system, in particular in the Plumstead area of ​​Bucks County. However, it is important to note that BCSWA did not wait until the consent decree was finalized before taking action in the Township of Plumstead. On the contrary, BCSWA has been actively dealing with overflow issues in Plumstead Township for a number of years, particularly in relation to the impact that private properties in the area have had on sanitary sewer overflows. Stormwater from branch lines on private property, including properties that have experienced flooding problems due to a lack of storm drains or a malfunction of existing storm drains in PENNDOT rights-of-way. It is important to note that while BCWSA does not own any of these private laterals, it has nonetheless taken a proactive approach to remedying this situation by helping residents repair their private laterals and has indeed had some success with this approach. To date, BCSWA has repaired or replaced more than 75 laterals on private property, and continues to CCTV and monitor its system during rain events. To reiterate, the BCWSA has undertaken such work although it has no stake in these branches. This ongoing work has had a significant positive impact on the BCSWA system and has reduced the number and duration of SSOs during rainy events. In addition, BCSWA has met with PENNDOT and elected officials of the Township of Plumstead on several occasions to facilitate the installation of the necessary stormwater installations in the Township of Plumstead to mitigate flooding and to evacuate water from the side exhaust stacks. private buildings that are flooded during rainy episodes. Despite its efforts and commitment to address the impact of stormwater from private diversions, additional work is still needed, which BCSWA will continue to pursue in accordance with the Consent Decree.

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