Deal With Feds Requires Ohio City to Fix Sewer System

CINCINNATI (CN) – A southwestern Ohio city reached a settlement with the state and federal government on Friday over claims that it has illegally discharged untreated sewage into the Great Miami River for a decade.

A federal lawsuit filed Friday in Cincinnati federal court alleges Middletown, Ohio, repeatedly violated its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits by discharging illegal amounts of chlorine, ammonia, and fecal bacteria from its wastewater treatment plant into the river since 2008.

The plant and its collection system serve approximately 52,000 people and consist of over 342 miles of pipe.

Ohio and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also claim the city discharged sewage during “times that were not ‘wet weather periods,’” another violation of its permits, and that its discharge of chemicals from its eight sewer overflow locations endangered local residents and wildlife and exposed them to dangerous bacteria.

The parties filed a consent decree Friday, in which Middletown admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to replace or repair substantial portions of its sewer pipes to comply with the Clean Water Act.

Middletown also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $55,000, comprised of $27,500 each for the state and federal governments.

EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp said the agency “is committed to keeping raw sewage out of our local waterways and communities.”

“Today’s settlement will result in significant infrastructure improvements that will protect water quality and human health,” she said in a statement.

Neither the Ohio attorney general’s office nor the city of Middletown immediately responded Monday to requests for comment.

EPA attorney Nicholas McDaniel filed the suit on behalf of the U.S. government and Ohio.

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