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Quincy Facing Federal Penalties for Dumping Wastewater Into Boston Harbor

Quincy Facing Federal Penalties for Dumping Wastewater Into Boston Harbor

Quincy, MA– Although some locals say that the city of Quincy has cleaned up its beaches and ramped up its environmental efforts in recent years, the city is now facing a federal lawsuit for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.

On Friday March 15, the office of Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling filed a civil complaint on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that the city of Quincy has dumped “...sewage and untreated wastewater into the Boston Harbor, Dorchester Bay, Quincy Bay and other waterways from the City’s sanitary sewer and storm drain systems.”

The complaint cites evidence including the high levels of the bacteria E. coli and Enteroccous shown in water quality testing along Quincy’s coastline from 2009 to 2018. The complaint also alleges that the city of Quincy allowed its sanitary sewer system to overflow more than once during this time period, releasing harmful pollutants into the local waterways.

Sewage overflows pose a risk to water quality and safety, and can be damaging to beach and sea life. Overflows also lead to “fishing advisories and basement backups of sewage.”

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch responded to the complaint on Friday, saying that he was “outraged” that the federal government chose to file a complaint and seek a fine rather than continue to work with the city to improve environmental conditions. Koch said that the city of Quincy has cooperated with the EPA for the past year and has spent millions of dollars making improvements over the past ten years.

"We've been working to improve water quality every year. We've been doing the right thing for years,” said Koch in a press conference. Koch pointed to the city’s cleanup of Wollaston Beach, as well as sewer lines that had been repaired.

The Clean Water Act assigns daily penalties of $37,500 for violations that occurred on or before Nov. 2, 2015, and $54,833 for violations occurring after Nov. 2, 2015. This would add millions more to Quincy’s costs.

In the past, Quincy beaches have had to close for swimmers because the E. coli levels were high enough to cause illness.

Image via Wikimedia user Sswonk