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POLICY IMPLICATIONS AND NEW DIRECTIONS: 2001 COMBINED SEWER OVERFLOW REPORT TO CONGRESS

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In the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2001, Congress made several changes to the Clean Water Act regarding combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), and requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide to Congress two reports. EPA delivered the 2001 Report to Congress on Implementation and Enforcement of the Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy in January 2002. This report benchmarks the status of CSO permitting and enforcement activities and the implementation of CSO controls in accordance with EPA's 1994 CSO Control Policy. It also identifies key program challenges and next steps to be taken by EPA. This paper will address the activities that EPA has taken and plans to take in response to the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2001 (P.L. 106.554) and this report, and in meeting a requirement to prepare the second Report to Congress that is due in December 2003.

EPA wants to ensure that all CSOs are appropriately controlled and covered by an NPDES permit or other enforceable mechanism. The Wet Weather Water Quality Act of 2000 states that Each permit, order or decree issued pursuant to this Act after the date of enactment of this subsection for a discharge from a municipal combined storm and sanitary sewer shall conform to the CSO Control Policy signed by the Administrator on April 11, 1994.

EPA is in the process of defining “shall conform”. This definition is likely to have a major impact on permit requirements as substantial state-to-state differences in permitting requirements were identified in the 2001 Report to Congress. It will also mean that all CSOs will be expected to be controlled as anticipated and described in the CSO Control Policy.

The second Report to Congress will be expanded to include SSOs and CSOs, and will report on:



The extent of human health and environmental impacts caused by municipal CSOs and SSO, including the locations of discharges causing such impacts, the volume of pollutants discharged, and the constituents discharged.


The resources spent by municipalities to address these impacts.


An evaluation of the technologies used by municipalities to address these impacts.


Other new initiatives by EPA include improved implementation of the CSO Control Policy by placing additional emphasis on watershed approach, more work with the states to facilitate the water quality standards review process, more assistance to NPDES authorities related to the review of long term control plans, and improved compliance assistance and enforcement.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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