News Releases from Headquarters›Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA)
The City Will Eliminate Sanitary Sewer System Overflows and Illegal Discharges
WASHINGTON (September 25, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with the City of Corpus Christi to improve its sewer system, which, with more than 1,100 miles of sewer lines and more than 100 lift stations, is one of the largest sewer systems in Texas.
Under the settlement, the City has agreed to implement a comprehensive set of corrective measures and improvements to the City’s sewer system to resolve longstanding problems with sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). An SSO occurs when sewage is released from a municipal sanitary sewer before it reaches the treatment works and can be caused by broken pipes or backups from blockages or infiltration of rainwater. The City also has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1.136 million which will be shared equally with the State of Texas.
“EPA and the State of Texas worked alongside the City of Corpus Christi to develop a comprehensive solution to protect water quality,” said Susan Bodine, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement benefits Corpus Christi residents and the environment by ensuring the City will upgrade their facilities to eliminate future violations.”
The consent decree requires Corpus Christi to prioritize cleaning and evaluating the condition of sewer lines in locations that have historically experienced SSOs, comprising an area of roughly 40% of the entire sewer system. This will be completed within the first four years of the consent decree. In these areas, sewer blockages caused by the buildup of grease and debris and sewer line defects have led to SSOs. The City has also agreed to conduct cleaning and sewer assessments in the remaining portions of the sewer system within 10 years. The city will perform rehabilitation of the sewer system based upon the findings of the required sewer evaluations. All significant sewer defects identified during the first four years will be rehabilitated within the first 6.5 years of the consent decree with the exception of some capital projects to be completed on a schedule not to exceed 15 years.
Also, to address another cause of SSOs, the city will conduct a system-wide capacity assessment of the sewer collection system in order to identify capacity constraints that have caused SSOs or are likely to cause or significantly contribute to the future occurrence of SSOs. This assessment will result in a capacity remedial measures plan that will be submitted for review and approval within 5.5 years. That plan will require the completion of capacity remedial measures within 15 years.
Finally, the City has agreed to implement a number of programs designed to keep grease out of the sewer system, respond to SSOs in a timely manner, and properly operate and maintain its lift stations.
The consent decree was lodged in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period before the court can give final approval and enter the consent decree as a final judgment, at which time it will become effective. The consent decree is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent Decree.html.
For more information on this settlement go to: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/city-corpus-christi-texas-clean-water-act-settlement.
Members of the public can help protect our environment by identifying and reporting environmental violations. Learn more here: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/report-environmental-violation-general-information.