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CHICAGO (August 16, 2021) – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into an administrative order on consent requiring Cahokia Heights, Illinois, to submit plans to identify and address sanitary sewer overflows in the city. Sewage overflows can contaminate water and back-up into yards and homes, causing property damage and threatening public health. Overflows have been documented on at least 28 occasions since January 26.
“This order will assist the city in focusing on identifying the most urgent needs for repair of the sewer system in order to protect the public’s health,” said acting U.S. EPA Region 5 Administrator Cheryl Newton. “I appreciate the new city’s willingness to work to resolve these long-standing sewer problems for the community.”
The order requires the city to:
- Update its “capacity, management, operation and maintenance” program to submit to U.S. EPA for review and approval.
- Train city sewer staff on sewer-system inspections, develop a routine inspection and maintenance plan for lift stations, and develop a plan to address complaints and work orders.
- Submit a targeted dry-weather SSO investigation plan using typical industry standards to understand the causes and develop a plan to eliminate dry weather SSOs in locations where sanitary sewer overflows have been documented.
- Develop a targeted dry-weather SSO corrective action plan to eliminate documented dry-weather SSOs and then implement the plan after approval by the U.S. EPA.
- Develop and submit a wet-weather SSO investigation plan to understand the causes of wet-weather SSOs and identify areas of the system that need to be addressed.
Cahokia Heights is a town in Southern Illinois that faces numerous environmental challenges. Community advocates and residents raised their concerns to U.S. EPA, including their concerns about environmental justice. The Agency is committed to work toward environmental justice, which is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Earlier this month, U.S. EPA ordered the city and the drinking water utilities in the city to take immediate actions under the Safe Drinking Water Act to minimize the risk of sewer overflows contaminating drinking water. While there is no evidence there is contamination in the drinking water now, a recent U.S. EPA inspection identified serious problems that could affect drinking-water safety, especially during sewer overflows. More information about this drinking water order is online at: https://www.epa.gov/il/cahokia-heights-drinking-water.
More information about today’s action and a copy of the order will be posted on U.S. EPA’s website: https://www.epa.gov/il/communities-east-st-louis-area-and-sanitary-sewer-overflows.
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