EPA Announces Fifth Order Requiring Holyoke to Fix High-Priority CSO Discharges
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has issued the fifth in a series of administrative orders requiring the city of Holyoke take action to reduce untreated sewage flowing into the Connecticut River.
The city's wastewater treatment plant takes both sewage and storm water runoff. Due to the lack of capacity, the pipes – known as combined sewer overflows, or CSOs – are designed to overflow after heavy rains, resulting in wastewater being discharged directly into the Connecticut River.
The overflows that occur in Holyoke discharge as many as 500 million gallons of wastewater into the Connecticut River in a typical year. These discharges are a major reason why the Connecticut River routinely fails to meet water quality standards after heavy rains. CSOs pose a significant threat to water quality, carrying viruses, bacteria and other biological pathogens as well as industrial waste and toxic materials.
Since 1995, EPA has issued five administrative orders to the City – issuing the most recent order this week. EPA’s earlier orders required the City to assess its collection system, develop a long-term plan to control its CSOs, and to stop the flow of Green Brook into the city's wastewater treatment plant and divert it directly into the Connecticut River.
The current order requires the City to eliminate overflows from the Mosher Street outfall, upgrade the wastewater treatment plant, and provide treatment to the Berkshire Street outfall, the source of the greatest volume of overflow. The order establishes a start date of July 1, 2005.
"CSO discharges add significant pollution to waterways across New England," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "This order incorporates some of the projects that are already underway and makes the city accountable for their timely completion in order to further eliminate discharges from Holyoke's system into the Connecticut River."
Holyoke is among more than a half dozen cities on the Lower Connecticut River facing severe CSO problems. Springfield and Chicopee are under compliance orders for reducing their CSO discharges, while the communities of Agawam, West Springfield, Ludlow and South Hadley have already eliminated their CSOs or are close to eliminating them.
Contact: Sheryl Rosner
EPA Office of Public Affairs
For more information on EPA’s enforcement of environmental laws related to clean water in New England visit the EPA's "Region 1" (New England) information. Source EPA Press Release # sr050202, February 9, 2005