Water Disasters – Village Of Northport Agrees to Settle Federal Complaint by Complying with Clean Water Act Requirements
Long Island Strong news – US DOJ Eastern District of NY reports 2.19.2020. Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Peter D. Lopez, Regional Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2 (EPA), announced today that the United States filed suit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) against the Village of Northport, New York (Northport) to address illegal and persistent discharges of pollutants and for failure to comply with the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit and EPA’s administrative orders that required Northport to prevent pollutants discharged from its sewer system from entering the waters of the United States. The parties agreed to enter into a Consent Decree, which was also filed today with the court, and it requires Northport to conduct inspections and sampling of its outfalls, and to implement rehabilitation work to eliminate any illicit discharges. The Consent Decree also requires Northport to pay civil penalties of $125,000. The State of New York is a plaintiff in this matter and a party to the Consent Decree. Following a 30-day public comment period, the United States will review any comments and, if appropriate, ask the court to enter the Consent Decree.
The lawsuit and Consent Decree were filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in Central Islip, New York.
“The United States brought this action to ensure that Northport meets its obligation to protect water quality by developing and enforcing a program to eliminate the discharge of unpermitted pollutants from its storm sewer system,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Specifically, the resolution of this case is designed to prevent pollutants, such as raw sewage travelling through Northport’s storm sewers, from discharging into Northport Harbor and Northport Bay, which flow into the Long Island Sound. This Office is committed to vigorously enforcing the CWA against parties who discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States.”
“When not properly managed, storm water often carries pollution and sediment into local waterways that can impair streams, lakes and beaches,” stated EPA Regional Administrator Lopez. “Before Northport began to take steps several years ago to address these issues, storm water from Northport impaired local waterways and there were instances of beach closings due to contamination in Northport Harbor. EPA takes these violations seriously, and the Village has come a long way to protect their valuable natural resources and improve the community’s quality of life.”
Northport owns and operates an MS4 permitted storm sewer system that comprises numerous catch basins in which storm water is collected and discharged through connecting pipe segments to 19 outfalls. Northport’s outfalls discharge into Northport Harbor and Northport Bay and flow into the Long Island Sound. As alleged in the complaint, following inspections by EPA in 2011, EPA determined that Northport’s storm sewer system discharged illicit contaminants, including raw sewage, into Northport Harbor. To address these discharges, Northport and EPA entered into three administrative orders from 2012 through 2013 to bring Northport into compliance with the CWA and the MS4 permit. The administrative orders required Northport to complete rehabilitation projects, inspection and sampling. In addition, Northport’s MS4 permit required it to implement and enforce a program to detect and eliminate illicit discharge flowing into its storm sewer system. The deadlines in EPA’s orders and the MS4 permit were not achieved, resulting in today’s lawsuit. The Consent Decree will require Northport to comply with the CWA, preventing future illicit sewage discharges into waters of the United States.
The civil negotiations and settlement were handled by the Office’s Civil Division. Assistant United States Attorney Deborah B. Zwany is in charge of this matter, working with Phyllis Kaplan Feinmark and Kara Murphy, Regional Counsel’s Office, U.S. EPA Region 2, Douglas McKenna, Chief of the Water Compliance Branch, U.S. EPA Region 2, Justine Modigliani, P.E. Chief of the Clean Water Act Compliance Section, U.S. EPA Region 2 and Katherine Green, Physical Scientist, Clean Water Act Compliance Section, U.S. EPA Region 2.