CWA Consent Decree Requires Manchester, N.H. To Clean Up And Comply With Laws

The District of New Hampshire approved a consent decree filed in a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit and ruled that the city of Manchester, N.H. should make modifications to come in compliance with state and federal laws. The city was sued by the United States and New Hampshire for not properly taking care of its sewage and runoff water and reportedly polluting rivers and brooks. 

The United States said in the decree that the framework for compliance is in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy (CSO Policy) which states that sewer systems must ensure that discharges are “only as a result of wet weather,” that wet weather discharge points are in compliance with technology based CWA requirements and other water quality standards, and impacts of the wet weather discharge is minimized, including health and aquatic biota impacts. 

The decree also stated that based on 2030 predictions, due to projects that have been and will be performed by the city from 2010 forward, the city is expected to have 95 percent of its wet-weather combined sewage captured for treatment. The filing said that the purpose of the decree is to require Manchester to come completely into compliance with the CWA and the New Hampshire Act, as well as any other applicable regulations. 

Steps the city will be required to take include: closing inactive Combined Sewer Overflow outfalls, removing brooks from the Combined Sewer System, and separating pipes, improving their Wastewater Treatment Plan to optimize it, and ensuring compliance with the permit’s minimum requirements. Each requirement contains specific deadlines for the city to meet the requirements. The city is also required to submit reports every six months and a Post-Construction Monitoring Program for review in five years. 

Under the decree, Manchester is liable for penalties for violations in its reporting and monitoring or other items within the decree and will be charged daily for violations with the penalty growing as noncompliance continues

Manchester is represented by McLane Middleton. The United States and New Hampshire are represented by their respective departments of justice.