Jun 09, 2021

Quincy, Massachusetts, to Remediate Sanitary Sewer System Discharge Violations

The settlement requires Quincy to minimize the discharge of sewage and other pollutants.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into a consent decree with the city of Quincy, Massachusetts, to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) regarding the City’s storm water and sanitary sewer systems. 

According to the Department of Justice, water sampling revealed untreated sanitary sewage discharging from numerous Quincy storm water outfalls. Some of these outfalls include outfalls discharging at beach areas.

The settlement requires Quincy to minimize the discharge of sewage and other pollutants into: Quincy Bay, Dorchester Bay, Neponset River, Hingham Bay, Boston Harbor and other water bodies in and around Quincy. The cost is expected to be in excess of $100 million and the city will also pay a civil penalty of $115,000, according to the Department of Justice. Some portions of Quincy’s sanitary sewer system are over 100 years old.

Under the proposed consent decree, Quincy must implement a program to investigate, repair and rehabilitate its storm water and sanitary sewer systems, which would in turn assist communities disproportionately impacted by pollution.

“This settlement is a reminder that municipalities must comply with the law and environmental standards to prevent and address pollution caused by defects in their storm water and sewage systems,” said Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell in the Department of Justice news release. “This is a matter of environmental protection and public health.”

In March 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil complaint alleging that the City of Quincy inadequately controlled sewage leaking from its sanitary sewer system, allowing sewage to mix with stormwater and be discharged from the municipal storm sewer system into nearby waterbodies, including at beach locations. The complaint also alleged that Quincy’s sanitary sewer system has overflowed on numerous occasions, resulting in discharges of sewage.

Quincy must first complete its investigations of drainage areas discharging to beach areas, then remove all identified sources of sewage, and conduct frequent and enhanced monitoring of its storm water outfalls. Until pollutants are removed from its storm drain discharges, Quincy is required to post notices to warn beachgoers of contaminated storm water at these storm drain outfalls, reported the Department of Justice.

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