Texas, Ohio cities agree to settle federal water violation charges

Acting on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed consent decrees to settle claims against two Texas cities and another in Ohio for violations of the Clean Water Act...

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 14, 2004 -- Acting on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed consent decrees to settle claims against two Texas cities and another in Ohio for violations of the Clean Water Act.

Plainview and Carthage, Texas, and Clyde, Ohio, face total civil penalties of $130,000 if the decrees are approved in their current form. Their water treatment operations would also face additional improvements and reporting requirements.

Plainview, Texas
On Sept. 30, a proposed consent decree in the case of the United States and state of Texas v. City of Plainview was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. In the action, the EPA sought civil penalties and injunctive relief for several violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the city's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit with respect to its publicly owned treatment works (POTW) for wastewater.

The consent decree settles the claims that the city violated the CWA and its NPDES permit by: 1) Discharging pollutants in excess of the effluent limitations specified in its NPDES permit; 2) failing to comply with the final effluent limitations specified for ammonia-nitrogen by March 1, 2000; and 3) failing to operate and maintain its POTW as required by the permit.

The decree requires the city to pay a $75,000 civil penalty to the federal government. It also requires that the city implement and comply with a comprehensive Management, Operation and Preventative Maintenance Program for its POTW during the term of the decree, and provide quarterly and annual reports to the EPA with copies to the state of Texas.

Carthage, Texas
The Carthage decree, also filed Sept. 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, resolves liability for violations involving discharge of effluent from the city's publicly owned water treatment works in violation of effluent limits in its NPDES permits.

The proposed agreement requires city to construct an improved treatment system using chlorination to treat the effluent and meet specified operation and maintenance requirements. It also must pay a civil penalty of $20,000 for the CWA violations and perform a supplemental environmental project (SEP) which consists of hooking up 29 residences that are currently on septic tanks to sewer lines.

Clyde, Ohio
The proposed agreement with Clyde, Ohio -- filed Sept. 29 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio -- concerns injunctive relief and civil penalties for alleged CWA violations.

Clyde owns and operates a POTW for wastewater, and the decree addresses discharges of effluent through an outfall into Raccoon Creek. It also resolves allegations that Clyde violated its 1994, 1997 and 2002 NPDES permits and several CWA requirements by: 1) Exceeding the effluent limitations contained in the three NPDES permits, 2) failing to comply with the monitoring requirements contained in the permits, 3) failing to meet compliance schedules in the permits, and 4) failing to comply with an administrative order from the EPA.

The city also agrees to injunctive relief, which includes coming into compliance with the current NPDES permit; preparing a long term control plan for the regulating agencies; installation of a compliance control screen, monitoring of Clyde's outfall, and additional reporting requirements, as well as payment of a $35,000 penalty.

For the full documents related to these decrees, see:
http://epa.gov/EPA-WATER/2004/October/Day-14/ or www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html.

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