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For Release: Friday, August 25, 2017

DEC: Niagara Falls Water Board Violated Water Quality Standards Due to August 15 Combined Sewer Overflow

State Issues Notice of Violation to NFWB Requiring Immediate Upgrades to Water Treatment Plant and Faces Up to $37,500 Per Violation in Penalties

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that the Niagara Falls Water Board violated water quality standards as a result of an August 15 combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharge that caused a substantial visible contrast to the natural conditions in the Niagara River. The State issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to the water board today.

As a result of the NOV, DEC is directing the Niagara Falls Water Board to provide a technical evaluation of its wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and sewage system, identify short-term measures to improve the operation of wastewater systems and collection systems, and conduct a longer-term evaluation of system upgrades, including the ability to capture and treat increased amounts of wet weather CSO discharges. Penalties associated with the Notice of Violation range up to $37,500 per day, per violation.

"New York reserves the right to pursue those who violate water quality standards to protect the public and the environment," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "We are directing the Niagara Falls Water Board to provide all of the engineering information and data necessary to determine how and why this violation occurred. DEC will now investigate into all appropriate measures to prevent further violations from happening."

DEC regulates all wastewater treatment plants in New York State and carefully monitors CSOs. In addition, the owners of publicly owned treatment works are required to report any noncompliance with state permits and the Sewage Pollution Right to Know law requires reporting of all CSO events to the public.

At Governor Cuomo's direction, DEC is also conducting a comprehensive investigation into the July 29 discharge of black water and closely monitoring the actions by the Niagara Falls Water Board. Earlier this week, the Governor directed DEC to inform the Water Board to cease any discharges from the sediment basin until the investigation is closed.

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