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Contact: Elaine Makatura


(02/48) Trenton---The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the city of Paterson have reached a settlement requiring the city to install pollution controls on its sewer system to prevent sewage waste from washing into the Passaic River.

Paterson will pay a penalty of $7,500 and an economic benefit assessment of $371,669 to settle its sewage discharge permit violations. The economic benefit assessment represents the financial advantage Paterson realized by not investing in the equipment required for compliance with clean water regulations.

"I am pleased that the city of Paterson ultimately decided to cooperate with the department," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "This settlement goes a long way toward improving water quality in the Passaic River while safeguarding the public."

Paterson owns and operates a combined sewer system, which carries both stormwater and sewage. During periods of heavy rainfall, solid and floatable waste are transported directly to the Passaic River - bypassing the wastewater treatment plant - because the combined sewer system does not have the capacity to carry both sewage and stormwater runoff. Under dry weather conditions, all flow within Paterson's sewer system goes to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission's wastewater treatment facility in Newark.

Operators of combined sewer systems are mandated by the federal Clean Water Act to implement pollution controls for solids and floatables to prevent discharge to surface water. Under a court-approved settlement in accordance with an enforcement compliance schedule, Paterson is required to install pollution control devices, which will capture any solids and floatables before they reach the river. The city will also submit quarterly progress reports to the department beginning July 31, 2002.

The cost to upgrade Paterson's combined sewer system, which contains 32 combined sewer overflow points, is estimated at $24.5 million.

In 1999, DEP issued a penalty assessment of $15,000 to Paterson for failure to submit timely Treatment Works Approval (TWA) applications for the control devices as required in its New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) permit. Paterson's continued failure to submit the TWA's resulted in the department filing a complaint against the city in May 2000 in the Superior Court of New Jersey, citing these continuing violations of the NJPDES permit requirements and the New Jersey Water Pollution Control Act.

The agreement announced today, which is outlined in a Judicial Consent Order, settles the complaint and Paterson's outstanding penalty liability for the violations.




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