Harrisburg and Capital Region Water Agree to Reduce Sewer Overflows, Nutrient Discharges

Under an $82 million proposed partial settlement, the City of Harrisburg and Capital Region Water will work to address sewer overflows discharged to the Susquehanna River and Paxton Creek, which are part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The settlement, still subject to a 30-day comment period, is a proposed agreement between the city and utility and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for alleged Clean Water Act violations.

Under the proposed agreement, Capital Region Water will take major steps over the next five years to improve the operation and maintenance of Harrisburg’s wastewater and stormwater collection systems. The utility will conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing conditions within its combined sewer system and develop a long-term control plan to curtail combined sewer overflows. Once a long-term control plan is approved by EPA, the court agreement will need to be modified, or a new one will need to be put in place, to include implementation of the plan. Improvements also will include construction upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant that will significantly reduce nitrogen discharges. The plant is currently the largest point source of nitrogen on the Susquehanna River, according to an EPA statement.

The proposed partial settlement involves some early action projects while also requiring further assessment and long-term planning. This reflects EPA’s integrated approach to prioritizing solutions for both point and nonpoint source pollution along with nutrient reduction goals coinciding with Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load obligations.

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