HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A consent decree was approved in U.S. District Court that requires the city of Holyoke to reduce future sewage discharges into the Connecticut River.

As stated in the consent decree, Holyoke has been discharging pollutants from combined sewer overflow (CSO) into the Connecticut River which is in violation of federal and state wastewater discharge permits.

However, the city has already taken steps in recent years to address this issue, including a plan in the works to separate wastewater and rainwater drainage systems as well as eliminating the Jackson Street CSO. The signing of a consent decree finalizes plans for Holyoke to reduce sewage discharge.

The city will additionally conduct sampling of storm sewer discharges, continue work to remove illicit connections, and take other actions to reduce pollution of the stormwater runoff. The city must also pay a $50,000 penalty for past permit violations.

“Protecting our precious waterways from dangerous pollutants is a vital part of the Department’s work. This consent decree will better ensure that Holyoke residents and every single community that enjoys the Connecticut River is safer,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “We commend Holyoke for their ongoing cooperation in developing this improvement plan and for their commitment to protecting the future of the Connecticut River moving forward.”

“The U.S. EPA is very pleased that the work called for under this settlement will achieve a cleaner and healthier environment for people living in and downstream from Holyoke. This work is especially important because Holyoke includes historically disadvantaged communities. It’s a significant priority for EPA to help ensure that all our citizens are able to enjoy a clean and healthy environment,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash.

“We are grateful to our federal partners for working with us to reach this settlement that will improve the water quality of the Connecticut River, and thus the overall health of Holyoke residents,” said Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell. “My office is committed to creating healthier, safer communities across Massachusetts by fighting environmental injustices like contaminated water and we appreciate the City of Holyoke’s parallel commitment to these important efforts.”

During heavy rainfall, wastewater volume can exceed the capacity of the sewer system or the treatment facility and the excess wastewater will discharge into the Connecticut River without treatment.

In July, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission announced that $953,000 will be awarded to the Connecticut River Cleanup Committee (CRCC) to support work eliminating combined sewer overflows.

The projects to reduce the amount of untreated sewage into the Connecticut River during rainstorms are directed to Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke. The work being conducted includes the following:

  • The start of construction activities in Chicopee’s South Fairview Sewer Separation project
  • A CSO Flow Monitoring System to provide flow metering and data system at each of Chicopee’s 16 active CSO locations
  • Completion of 100% design and permitting, public meeting, SR application, and bidding services for Holyoke’s River Terrace Sewer Separation project
  • Completion of installation and related controls on Springfield Water and Sewer Commission’s York Street Pump Station project, as well as completion of disconnection of existing pump station piping at Bondi’s Island and removal of diversion structure

Local News

WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in March 1953 providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram