In August, the Delaware County Regional Water Quality Control Authority (DELCORA) entered into a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve its combined sewer and stormwater drainage system in the City of Chester, Pa. The improvements will address combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and improve water quality in the Delaware River, Chester Creek, and Ridley Creek.

DELCORA has 42 months to develop a long-term control plan to reduce CSOs and 20 years to implement the plan. Chester’s combined sewer system was constructed in the early 1900s when combined sewers were commonplace in urban areas. However, major infrastructure improvements will reduce the approximately 2.8 million m3 (739 million gal) of combined sewage that overflow the system annually.

This consent decree is the latest in a series of settlements with municipalities nationwide to address aging and inadequate sewer infrastructure. In Pennsylvania, Chester joins Philadelphia, Williamsport, Scranton, Harrisburg, and Pittsburg in addressing CSOs through a Clean Water Act settlement.

DELCORA’s wastewater facilities serve approximately 500,000 people in the greater Philadelphia area, including many low-income communities. The City of Philadelphia currently is implementing a $2-billion long-term control of which DELCORA is funding $178 million over 15 years because some of its wastewater flows into Philadelphia’s system, according to a DELCORA release.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval after it is published in the Federal Register.