Illicit Discharge Consent Decree
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) conducted a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) compliance inspection of Mount Vernon’s stormwater outfalls in 2012. During the inspection, the USEPA found evidence of sewage discharging into the Hutchinson and Bronx Rivers from the City’s stormwater outfalls, which is evidence of illicit discharges in the City’s storm sewer and a violation of Mount Vernon’s MS4 Permit and the Clean Water Act. The findings of the USEPA ultimately resulted in an Administrative Compliance Order (ACO) on March 8, 2015, which was a notice of violation from the EPA that they required compliance with permits within a specified schedule, otherwise the EPA could impose fines or other punitive action.
The City commenced work on the requirements of the ACO but due to lack of funding was not able to meet the compliance schedule. This resulted in subsequent Remedial Orders from a United States District Judge.
The City is currently in negotiations with the USEPA, the New York State Department of Conservation, and the United States Department of Justice in the development of a consent decree. A consent decree, also known as a consent order, is an order made by a judge with the consent of all parties. This document will outline short and long-term requirements the City will agree to take to meet the requirements of Clean Water Act. Its legally binding and there are fines for not meeting the obligations of detailed in the document. It is anticipated that the City will enter into a consent decree in 2023.
The major requirements of the consent decree will fall under the responsibility of the City’s Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sewers and Stormwater Management. The requirements include repairs to the stormwater and sanitary sewers, sampling and investigation of the stormwater and sanitary sewer system, training of the DPW staff, and development of plans and reports.
The Comprehensive Sewer System Investigation and Rehabilitation page provides a comprehensive look at the ongoing rehabilitation work the City is doing to meet the requirements of the consent decree.
The City has developed plans and reports that outline strategies for sewer investigation, illicit discharge elimination, and stormwater management to meet the requirements of the current remedial orders that will be incorporated into the consent decree. The reports are available below.
Illicit Discharge Action Plan
The City has developed an Illicit Discharge Action Plan (IDAP) which establishes standard methods for sewer system investigation and rehabilitation when an illicit discharge is suspected. It also contains the results of sampling water discharging from the stormwater outfalls and prioritizes areas of the City for investigation and sewer rehabilitation based on those results.
Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Survey
The City has developed a Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Survey (SSES) as a framework for sewer investigation and rehabilitation. Its primary focus is establishing standard methods for evaluating the sanitary sewer to find defects that have the potential to cause illicit discharges to the storm sewer, and investigating known sewer problem locations, including sewage backups into basements. The sanitary sewer will also be evaluated for infiltration and inflow (I/I) and structural integrity.
The Stormwater Management Plan
The Stormwater Management Plan establishes long-term programs, policies, and procedures to improve water quality. The plan includes the following measures to reduce the discharge of pollutants:
- Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts;
- Public Involvement/Participation;
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination;
- Construction Site Stormwater Run-off Control;
- Post-Construction Stormwater Management;
- Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations.
The MS4 Permit requires that each MS4 have a Stormwater Management Plan to document developed, planned, and implemented Stormwater Management Program elements. The City’s latest Stormwater Management Plan can be found at the link below.