As reported by John Marino for Caribbean Business
The six municipalities, which face a total $291,177 in fines, are: Cayey, Hatillo, Las Piedras, Loíza, Río Grande and Toa Alta.
“In order to prevent harmful discharges from their sewer systems, EPA is forcing these six municipalities to comply with federal clean water laws,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “Discharges from small municipal sewer systems can contaminate drinking water and recreational waterways, impairing these valuable resources.”
EPA ordered the municipalities to comply with stormwater requirements for sewer systems earlier this year after they were unable to provide evidence to EPA of compliance following a request in 2007.
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, established under the federal Clean Water Act, controls water pollution by regulating sources that discharge pollutants to waters in the United States. Municipalities are required to apply for NPDES permit coverage in order to operate the sewer systems, EPA officials said. Under this permit, operators are required to develop and implement a stormwater management program to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable to protect water quality. A total of 70 municipalities in Puerto Rico are currently subject to these requirements.
Municipal stormwater discharges are of concern because they often contain high concentrations of pollutants like fertilizers, pesticides, oil, litter and sediments, EPA officials said. Stormwater runoff picks up and transports untreated pollutants into waterways. Municipal stormwater discharges can result in the destruction of habitat, fish mortality, and contamination of drinking water supplies and recreational waterways.
The breakdown in fines are: Cayey, $48,920; Hatillo, $48,071; Las Piedras, $47,738; Loíza, $47,409; Río Grande, $49,393; and Toa Alta, $49,646.