Feb 12, 2009

Idaho City Pays $11,000 for Wastewater Violations

Council, Idaho, had more than 4000 effluent limit violations between May 2004 and April 2008

In its settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the city of Council, Idaho, agreed to pay $11,000 for alleged Clean Water Act violations at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The city owns and operates the permitted plant that discharges treated wastewater into the Weiser River.

From May 2004 through April 2008, the city’s plant had more than 4000 effluent limit violations. The city’s permit violations included exceeding their set discharge limits for Escherichia coli (E. coli), biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, pH and total residual chlorine.

According to James Werntz, EPA’s Idaho operations office director, wastewater treatment plants can degrade Idaho’s water quality when they exceed their permit limits.

“Cities like Council provide a valuable community service by treating wastewater, but they must strictly follow their permit limits,” said Werntz. “Otherwise, these discharges can seriously harm Idaho’s streams and rivers.”

The city’s treatment plant is part of a sanitary sewer system that receives domestic wastewater from residential and commercial sources. The plant serves a community of approximately 698 people. To address the effluent permit violations, the city has improved their chlorination system and installed a cover over one of the treatment lagoons to prevent algal blooms.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources such as pipes or manmade ditches that discharge pollutants to surface waters. Industrial, municipal and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

To learn more about EPA’s NPDES program, visit: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/index.cfm