EPA Says Harrisburg Must Address Sewage Flowing Into The Susquehanna


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HAVRE DE GRACE - The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a deadline for the City of Harrisburg, PA, to address the ongoing issue of sewage flowing into our beloved Susquehanna river.

On Monday, the EPA and the State of Pennsylvania filed a consent decree in federal court requiring Capital Region Water to create an effective long-term control plan by December 31, 2024, to reduce sewage overflows.

According to the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeepers, Harrisburg has a more than century-old combined sewage and stormwater system that overflows more than once a week, on average, into the Chesapeake Bay’s biggest tributary.

“Given Harrisburg’s long history of failing to address this obvious public health hazard, it is critical that EPA and DEP hold Capital Region Water strictly accountable for compliance with the modified consent decree’s deadlines and terms,” said Ted Evgeniadis, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper.

Overflows from Harrisburg’s outfalls average about 800 million gallons of sewage and stormwater a year. They totaled 1.1 billion gallons in 2021, 584 million gallons in 2020, 900 million gallons in 2019, 1.4 billion gallons in 2018, 899 million gallons in 2017, and 789 million gallons in 2016, according to reports from Capital Region Water.

The decree gives Capital Region Water a deadline of December 31, 2024, to submit a revised and updated long-term control plan for preventing sewage overflows.

Potential penalties in the modified consent decree filed in court today range up to $3,000 per day, depending on the violation.

“This is an opportunity for Harrisburg to come up with a real solution to the sewage overflow crisis in the state capital through long-needed infrastructure improvements,” said Jen Duggan, Deputy Director of the Environmental Integrity Project. “Cities across the U.S. with antiquated sewage systems have solved this problem, and Harrisburg can, too.”

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