CRIME: The United States Proposes Modification To The EPA Consent Decree To Reduce Sewer System Overflows For Hampton Roads Sanitation District

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The United States filed today with the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia a proposal to modify the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 consent order with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District to require the implementation of a comprehensive package of improvements to the sewer network to address long-standing issues with sanitary sewer outflows (SSOs). SSOs refer to the release of partially or untreated sewage from a municipal sewer. Due to the deterioration of pipes and old sewage treatment systems, they are more common in older sewage systems. The HRSD sewer system services 18 communities with 1.7 million inhabitants.

This modification to the consent decree will ensure the sanitation district continues taking active measures to improve Hampton Roads’ sewer system and the surrounding area, which will result in a cleaner and safer Chesapeake Bay,” stated Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This modification will ensure that local communities have access to the Chesapeake Bay both for recreational shell fishing Today, Hampton Roads Sanitation District must address the decades-old problem of sanitary sewer leaks,” stated Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA and Virginia collaborated with the HRSD in developing a long-term solution to improve water quality for all communities, even those that have been historically underserved or overburdened by pollutants . The modification will include and enforce schedules and projects that are part of the HRSD’s Regional Wet Weather Management Plan. The wet weather plan will see HRSD spend $410 millions between 2020 to 2040 on 15 priority project projects that will improve HRSD’s system as well as reduce the number and volume of SSOs.

The projects are located in the Hampton Roads area of Chesapeake and Hampton, Newport News. Norfolk, Portsmouth. Suffolk, Virginia Beach. Williamsburg. They will protect water quality in the Elizabeth River (James River), Nansemond River (York River), as well as the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean and Nansemond River.

HRSD will implement an $2.2 billion aquifer refillment project, also part of its integrated plan. This is known as Sustainable Water Infrastructure for Tomorrow (SWIFT). This project will see treated wastewater being injected into an underground water aquifer instead of discharged to surface waters. It will reduce wastewater discharges to the Chesapeake Bay. 90%.

HRSD will be required to finish six of the projects under 2030, and nine more by 2040. after the modifications have been approved by the court. These projects are focused on increasing the capacity for the regional sanitary wastewater system. These projects include the replacement and upgrading of pump stations as well as multiple wastewater storage facilities.

For more information on SSOs, visit: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/sanitary-sewer-overflows-ssos.

The modification to the consent decree was filed today at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It is subject to a 30-day public consultation period and approval by the federal courts. A copy of the modification to the consent decree is available on the Justice Department website at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

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