Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Word on Sewer Separation

In what promises to be a marathon session tonight, since a protest organized by Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) forced the informal meeting last Monday to be cancelled, the Common Council is once again expected to vote on whether or not to declare the proposed sewer separation project a Type 2 action, requiring no environmental review. The premise on which the project is based and which Rob Perry, Department of Public Works superintendent, has repeatedly stated as gospel is that, whenever sewer mains are replaced, the new sewer mains must separate storm water runoff from the sanitary sewer. 

Now, Timothy O'Connor, the most tireless and intrepid opponent of the proposed project, has gotten the word on this issue in writing from the Environmental Protection Agency: "The national CSO Control Policy does not mandate sewer separation whenever sewers are being replaced. Sewer separation is an option that a sewer authority should consider when deciding what is the best approach to reduce the number of wet weather overflows from a Combined Sewer System." The news made the front page of today's Register-Star: "EPA: Sewer separation not mandated."


  1. Actually, the EPA had underlined the words "does not mandate."

    In the Gossips post, the government's original emphasis has merely been switched for boldface.

    The "national CSO Control Policy" cited in the email provides the entire rationale for the State policy which the City has relied upon for its argument.

    The EPA's email explains the meaning of the following single line from the City's SPDES permit on which the City has built its entire claim that the sewer separation project is "mandated" (Mr. Moore), and "required" (Messrs. Perry and Whitbeck):

    "When replacement of a combined sewer is necessary it shall be replaced by separate sanitary and storm sewers to the greatest extent possible."

    Today, the Policy is finally explained: DOES NOT MANDATE (emphasis in the original!).

  2. "The national CSO Control Policy does not mandate sewer separation whenever sewers are being replaced.

    So, the extra $5 million spent to tear up front street, resulting in a plumes of sewage upland, never needed to be spent?