Two federal agencies have reached a deal with New Hampshire’s largest city to enact measures aimed at helping reduce river pollution.
The agreement announced Monday between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice and Manchester calls for implementing a 20-year plan to control and significantly reduce overflows of its sewer system into the Merrimack River. The state joined the U.S. government as a co-plaintiff on the agreement, which also settles alleged Clean Water Act violations by city. The proposed consent decree was filed in federal court in Concord.
Officials said the measures, which will cost over $231 million, should cut down on the amount of sewage from the city’s wastewater treatment systems that reaches the river.
The Merrimack River, the main source of drinking water for more than 500,000 people, is stocked with bass and trout and is popular with boaters.
“This agreement means a healthier Merrimack River and cleaner water for the communities along the river in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts,” EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel said in a statement. “EPA has long been committed to working with our state and federal partners and cities like Manchester to improve water quality along the Merrimack, which is an important source of drinking water and recreation destination.”
Mayor Joyce Craig welcomed the agreement, which she described as part of the city’s continued effort to improve its combined sewer overflow system and improve the river’s water quality.
The agreement targets the city’s combined sewer system, which during heavy rains often discharges raw sewage, industrial waste and other pollutants into the Merrimack River and its tributaries. Under the deal, the city is expected to reduce those discharges by 74%.
The settlement also requires upgrades at Manchester’s wastewater treatment plant to reduce discharges of phosphorous.
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