Penn. DEP fines sewer authority for fish kill

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined the Mountain Top Area Joint Sanitary Authority $9,548 for a September 2007 fish kill in the Big Wapwallopen Creek that occurred downstream of the authority's treatment plant in Dorrance Township, Luzerne County. A fish kill field survey and cause/effect stream survey were conducted, finding that nearly 2,800 fish, including nearly 200 brown trout, were killed in an area downstream of the authority's discharge...

WILKES-BARRE, PA, June 26, 2008 -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined the Mountain Top Area Joint Sanitary Authority $9,548 for a September 2007 fish kill in the Big Wapwallopen Creek that occurred downstream of the authority's treatment plant in Dorrance Township, Luzerne County.

"The department conducted a comprehensive stream survey immediately after the fish kill and found that the authority's discharge had a negative impact on fish in the stream and to the Big Wapwallopen Creek's overall biological community," said Northeast Regional Director Michael Bedrin.

DEP investigated reports of a fish kill on the creek over the Sept. 8-9, 2007 weekend. A fish kill field survey and cause/effect stream survey were conducted in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on Sept. 10-11.

The fish kill survey estimated that nearly 2,800 fish, including nearly 200 brown trout, were killed in an area downstream of the authority's discharge. Water quality samples were also taken, which showed elevated levels of ammonia at the discharge point and downstream.

In addition, a comprehensive survey in areas up and downstream of the authority's discharge showed that the macroinvertebrate community below the discharge was impaired. Macroinvertebrates are aquatic insects, crustaceans, snails or worms that inhabit fresh water bodies.

DEP biologists study these aquatic organisms to help determine the health and biodiversity of a water body.

DEP issued a notice of violation to the authority on April 10, 2008 for the fish kill and held an enforcement conference with them on April 22 to discuss the findings of the investigation and the proposed enforcement action. The $9,548 civil penalty includes a $4,400 fine and $5,148 to the department to cover its costs.

For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Water Quality.

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