NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) — The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced an administrative
order to New York City, mandating that it draft a plan to address continued
sewer backups into residents’ basements and other public and private property.
New York City has 120 days
from the issuance of the order to submit a plan to EPA. The plan, which must
then be approved by EPA, needs to work toward the elimination of unauthorized
wastewater releases from sewer backups across the city for the next seven
“Since 2012, New York City
has taken steps to reduce sewer backups by about 38 percent. To ensure this trend
continues and accelerates, the EPA will require a comprehensive and enforceable
plan,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA regional administrator. “The pressure on sewer
systems and the potential for sewer backups will only get worse as the city’s
population increases and as climate change results in heavy rain events.
Adequate operation and maintenance of New York’s sewer system [is critical].''
EPA notes that sewage
contains pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, which can cause disease in
humans. EPA is currently working with cities across the nation to improve water
infrastructure and thereby protect public health.