United States Environmental Protection Agency
      Office of Water
June 2000832-F-00-005
4204
Benefits of
Protecting Your
Community From
Sanitary Sewer
Overflows

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Sanitary Sewer Overflow Control Enhances Community Life
            YDur community can benefit from EPA's proposed sanitary
            sewer overflow control requirements - in ways that go
            :ar beyond reducing the amount of sewage entering your
      environment. The sewer system is a hidden resource that
      contributes to your quality of life and to your community's
      long-term success. It is there for you every time you empty
      your kitchen sink, flush a toilet, take a shower, or wash a load of
      laundry. The overflow control requirements will help protect the sewer system and make sure it
      is there for you in the future.
      A sanitary sewer overflow is an unintentional release of sewage from a collection system before
      it reaches the treatment plantThe sewage can contaminate groundwater or surface water,
      causing serious water quality problems and threatening drinking water supplies. It can also back
      up into basements. Overflows are unhealthy, destructive to public and private property, bad for
      recreation and tourism, and hard on sanitary sewer and drinking water system equipment.
      Unfortunately, they are a chronic and growing problem in many parts of the country.
      When is your sewer system operating at its best? When you don't smell it, hear it gurgling in
      your basement, or see it spill onto your public beach! You are paying for this service, either
      through local taxes or usage fees. Be a smart investor: learn about the sewer overflow control
      requirements, and support your local sanitation authority in its efforts to implement them.
                  Keeping sewage in the sewer leads to...

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Healthier communities that enjoy ...
                        Cleaner water, with fewer:
                        •  Viruses that can cause stomach flu, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, and other
                          diseases
                        •  Bacteria that cause diarrhea, skin rashes, hepatitis, cholera, salmonella, or other diseases
                        •  Worms and protozoa that can cause cryptosporidiosis or other diseases

                        Less exposure to these harmful organisms while:
                        •  Swimming
                        •  Drinking tap water
                        •  Eating locally-caught fish and shellfish

                        Less danger to children, the elderly, and people with
                        suppressed immune systems who:
                          Are more likely
                          to catch sewage-
                          borne diseases
                          than healthy
                          adults
                          Are more likely
                          to develop the
                          most serious
                          forms of disease
                          Are more likely
                          to spread disease
                          to other people,
                          causing secondary
                          outbreaks
 Centers for
   Disease
   Control,
     1998.
Surveillance
      for
 Waterborne
   Disease
 Outbreaks,
1995-1998.

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Homeowners who can count on
                          Protection from basement flooding that can damage:
                           Building foundations
                           Floor and wall coverings
                           Furniture
                           Plumbing, electrical system, and appliances
                           Personal property
                           Landscaping

                          More  money  for community development and
                          improvement, instead of:
                          • Homeowners and/or sewer
                           authorities paying cleanup
                           and repair costs of between      A|j   R  ,             ,    weekend
                           $700 and $4,000 per home       MIICe NSner Went awa' Iast weeKena
                           for damages that are rarely     confident that the $ 10,000 she had spent to
                                                   flood-proof her home.. .would prevent a
                                                   repeat of last year's flood [which] ravaged her
                                                   house. No such luck...Fisher, like hundreds of
                                                   other residents in Boston's South End, found
                                                   that once again her home was devastated.The
                                                   culprit wasn't just rainwater-it was sewage,
                                                   hundreds of gallons of filthy sludge that poured
                                                   into some  of the  most expensive real estate in
                                                   the city.
      .
    «,
 •
covered by insurance
Nationwide, communities
paying hundreds of millions
or even billions of dollars
to clean up and repair
overflow damage to public
sewer infrastructure, roads
and other transportation
assets, parks and recreation
areas, and municipal water
supplies
Court judgments against
sewer authorities that lead
to expensive individual or
class action damage awards
and legal fees
                                                   The Boston Globe, Sep. 15,1999. "Holding their
                                                   breaths; City's sewage-flooded residents brace
                                                   and ask why."

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Waterfront vacationers who look forward to
                          Local beaches that are open and safe for
                          recreation:
                          • Of the 1.8 billion annual trips made to a public waterfront, about 4.5 million are for
                           swimming or boating
                          • In 1998, beachgoers faced 7,400 closures and advisories, at least 16% of them due to
                           overflowing sewers that could expose swimmers to disease
                          • Many overflows go unmonitored and unreported, putting swimmers at unknown risk


                          Fish and shellfish that are safer to eat and more
                          plentiful because:
                          • They are not eating harmful bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that can be passed up the
                           food chain to humans
                          • They are not accu-
                           mulating sewage-
                           borne metals and
                           toxic contaminants
                           that are harmful to
                           humans
                          • Their ecosystem is
                           not altered by the
                           excess nutrients and
                           solids in sewage that
                           can lower light levels,
                           increase the water
                           temperature, and
                           favor the growth of
                           harmful algae
   Natural
 Resource
  Defense
  Council,
    1999.
Testing the
 Waters: A
  Guide to
    Water
 Quality at
  Vacation
  Beaches.

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Taxpayers who know their tax dollars really do work  ...
                         To protect one of the largest investments
                         their community has ever made, with:
                         • Periodic assessment of system function and capacity
                         • Ongoing maintenance to extend capacity and useful life
                         • Making needed repairs, upgrades and expansions before failures occur
                         • Educating business and residential system users on proper disposal of oil
                          and grease, etc.

                         To lay the foundation for local and regional
                         growth by:
                         • Providing businesses with needed access to sewer and water services
                         • Keeping city centers strong and controlling sprawl by offering high-quality
                          sewer, water and other utilities in urban areas to encourage business to stay
                          or return
A$9 million expansion of the Coudersport, Pennsylvania
                                   VWTP eliminated chronic overflows to the Allegheny River
                                   nd replaced a large number of failing septic systems with
                           new sewer connections. It also helped convince a communications
                           company to build their new operations center in the area rather
                           than move to New York—saving 500 local jobs and netting $ 12
                           million private investment in the community.

                           Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, 2000.
                           Paul Marchetti, Executive Director

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Case Study: Sewer Overflow Control Pays Off for Fayetteville
                               Eyetteville, Arkansas is a rapidly-growing Ozark Mountain
                               ommunity  of 53,000. Reports of numerous overflows from
                               he  I 10-year-old sewer system began in the late 1980s, with
                        frequent flooding of homes, streets, and parks. In 1992, the city
                        began an eight-year collection system rehabilitation program. At a
                        cost of just under $50 per resident per year, the sewer overflow
                        control program has so far yielded the following results:
                        • Backups have been significantly reduced;
                        • With less rain water and ground water leaking into the collection
                          system, flow to the treatment plant has not increased since 1992,
                          even though flow from new sewer connections increased by 40%;
                        • Rehabilitated sewer lines provide better system function with
                          more efficient operation and maintenance;
                        • City staff reduced after-hours emergency responses from two to
                          three each night to fewer than one a month;
                        • Extensive training helped the sewer authority staff learn to work
                          with  developers and homeowners to minimize potential overflow
                          problems through improved siting and design of new buildings;
                        • Restaurant and food processing facilities responded
                          enthusiastically to a program to reduce line-clogging grease in the
                          system; and
                        • System capacity is reassessed  as each line is rehabilitated,
                          providing vital data for long-term planning.

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For More Information
                               EPA's Office of Water maintains extensive information
                               ~egarding sanitary sewer overflow control requirements,
                               ncluding fact sheets, responses to frequently asked questions,
                         implementation guidance, and case study examples of communities
                         that are already benefitting from their infrastructure investment. To
                         learn about ways to protect community waterways from sewer
                         overflows and other wet weather impacts, visit our website at:

                         www.epa.gov/owm/wet.htm

                         Or contact us by mail at:

                         U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                         Office of Water
                         1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
                         Mail Code 4203 (SSO)
                         Washington, B.C. 20460
                         (202)260-7786

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