The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) will be paying a $2.6 million civil penalty to resolve Clean Water Act (CWA) violations and has agreed to spend $1.1 billion to comply with the law by 2025.
The state of Texas is a co-plaintiff in the case and will receive half of the civil penalty.
The U.S. Justice Department, on behalf of EPA, filed a complaint against SAWS alleging that between 2006 and 2012, the utility had 2,200 illegal overflows from its sanitary sewer system that discharged 23 million gallons of raw sewage into local waterways in violation of its CWA discharge permit. EPA confirmed these violations during a 2011 field inspection and record review.
As part of the settlement, SAWS will conduct systemwide assessments; identify and implement remedial measures to address problems that cause or contribute to illegal discharges found during those assessments; and initiate a capacity management, operation and maintenance program to proactively reduce sanitary sewer overflows.
The plan must be fully implemented by 2025.
In the early years of the agreement, SAWS will take actions that will result in reduction of sanitary sewer overflows. In addition, the utility will monitor water quality to identify potential additional sources of bacterial contamination that could be contributing to impairment of the Upper San Antonio River.
The utility's wastewater treatment plant serves 1.3 million people in Bexar County, which includes the City of San Antonio. Its wastewater collection and treatment system consists of 5,100 miles of gravity sewer lines; 100,000 manholes; and 170 lift stations.
The settlement will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period before final court approval of the consent decree. Once the consent decree has been approved and entered, SAWS will have 60 days to pay the fine.