A new ruling out of federal court has reduced the amount of money the City of Holyoke will need to pay as part of a consent decree with the EPA over combined sewer overflows into the Connecticut River.
The consent decree was officially approved in September. It requires the city to invest in their wastewater systems to prevent pollutants from overflowing into the river. The latest ruling reduces the fines and penalties the city will pay down to just $50,000 and reduces the construction costs to $35 million.
Mayor Joshua Garcia says that two new projects will reduce waste overflow enough to make the city compliant with the Clean Water Act.
“A new federal court judgment reduces the Holyoke sewer construction costs from over $170 million in the original partial consent decree to $35 million through 2035.
This was a true team effort that allowed the city to effectively make its case to the federal and state governments. Holyoke showed great progress in its efforts to prevent raw sewage from going into the Connecticut River.
Currently, the Holyoke system now prevents around 70 percent of solid waste from bypassing the treatment plant during heavy rains. Two new projects at River Terrace and Springdale will increase that reduction level to 85 percent, meet the current national requirements and put the city in full compliance with the Clean Water Act.
The Holyoke City Council recently approved bonding for the estimated $10.5 million to begin the River Terrace A project (split into two parts, A and B).
Part A’s cost may be further reduced by the award of two federal grants toward the project of between $2 million and $4 million thanks to the support of our Federal delegation. All borrowing will be set at 2 percent interest.
The over $100 million in capital cost reductions is a major financial achievement that will save ratepayers from the huge sewer increases such additional costs would require.
It is important to also note that the accumulated federal fines and penalties for Holyoke, totaling in the millions, have been reduced to a modest $50,000 in light of ongoing implementation costs and good faith exhibited by the city.
Shoutout to our City’s legal department, our DPW Director, the Chair of the City of Holyoke DPW Commission, and City Engineer who worked tirelessly to conclude this favorable outcome that has drastically limited the potential impact to rate payers.”Statement from Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia
WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in 1953 by providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on X @WWLP22News, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.