The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) have agreed to a settlement for violations of the Clean Water Act. ABCUWA will pay a civil penalty of $33,500 and build a pipeline to provide water to a wildlife refuge.
The settlement covers violations of the water authority’s wastewater discharge permit. EPA inspectors found ABCWUA experienced several sanitary sewer overflows and exceeded its permit limit for the amount of E. Coli bacteria in the discharged effluent. ABCWUA was also cited for discharging about six million gallons of sewage into the Rio Grande on Feb. 27, 2015. EPA issued administrative orders to ABCWUA to correct these violations in March 2015.
In addition to the monetary settlement, ABCWUA will build a water line from the Southside Water Reclamation Plant to the Valle del Oro National Wildlife Refuge. The project will expand water-reuse opportunities in the South Valley east of the Rio Grande, and will provide irrigation to landscaping along a bike path on 2nd Street from Rio Bravo to the entrance of the refuge. In addition, the reused water would also be available for landscaping at Mountain View Elementary School, and for parks or street median projects in neighboring communities. The pipeline construction is an example of a supplemental environmental project, which is a beneficial project or activity that a defendant agrees to as part of a settlement or enforcement action.
EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulates point sources of water pollution. The Clean Water Act requires facilities such as wastewater treatment plants to obtain an NPDES permit and abide by the pollutant discharge limits set in their permit.