ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION DIVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
STATE OF GEORGIA
IN RE: COBB COUNTY WATER SYSTEM
AGREEMENT NO. EPD-WQ-4195
WHEREAS, the Georgia Board of Natural Resources adopted a Resolution on January 28, 1998 directing, in part, that regulatory initiatives be put in place to ensure that violations of water quality laws whether public or private are identified and that appropriate penalties are levied in order to correct problems; and
WHEREAS, in order to comply with this resolution, the Environmental Protection Division (Division) adopted its “Zero Tolerance Policy” which states, in part, that enforcement action will be taken for any Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) into waters of the State that occurs in the Chattahoochee River Basin from the headwaters through Troup County, the Coosa River Basin, the Tallapoosa River Basin, or the metropolitan Atlanta area (the counties of Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Rockdale, Spalding, and the City of Atlanta); and
WHEREAS, Section 12-5-29(a) of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (Code) makes it unlawful to use any waters of the State to dispose of sewage or other wastes, except to comply with the Code and all rules, regulations, orders, and permits established under the Code; and
WHEREAS, Chapter 391-3-6-.02(2)(c) of the Rules defines “sewerage system” as any system that treats or disposes of pollutants including treatment works, pipelines or conduits, pumping stations or force mains, and all other appurtenant constructions, devices and appliances used to conduct pollutants to the point of ultimate disposal; and
WHEREAS, The Cobb County Water System (the “Utility”) was issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Nos. GA0026140, GA0026158, GA0046761, and GA0024988 (Permits) for its R.L. Sutton, South Cobb, Northwest, and Noonday wastewater treatment facilities (Facilities) respectively; and
WHEREAS, Parts II.A.1. and C.2 of the Permits state that the permittee shall at all times maintain in good working order and operate as efficiently as possible all treatment or control facilities (and related appurtenances) which are installed by the permittee to achieve compliance with the terms and conditions of the Permits; and
WHEREAS, the Utility owns, operates, and maintains a sewerage system as defined in Chapter 391-3-6-.02(2)(c) of the Rules; and
WHEREAS, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has a framework document for the operation of sewerage systems entitled the Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) in which specific and comprehensive guidance regarding the handling of SSOs is provided; and
WHEREAS, implementation of the CMOM framework by the Utility will result in expenditures of public funds significantly exceeding historic levels and would be a significant and positive step toward reduction of SSOs and in accordance with the intent of the proposed CMOM framework; and
WHEREAS, the USEPA states in its CMOM framework that their implementation would improve the capacity, management, operation and maintenance of municipal sanitary sewer collection systems and improve public notice for SSO events, which would:
- Reduce health and environmental risks by reducing SSO occurrences and improving treatment facility performance, and
- Protect the nation’s collection system infrastructure by enhancing and maintaining system capacity, reducing equipment and operational failures, and extending the life of its components; and
WHEREAS, Section 12-5-52(a) of the Code specifies that any person violating any provision of the Code or any permit condition or limitation established pursuant to the Code or failing to comply with any final Order issued by the Director of the Division (Director) shall be liable to the State of Georgia for a civil penalty not to exceed $50,000 per day for each day during which such violation occurs; and
WHEREAS, failure of the Director to take appropriate enforcement action against the Utility for noncompliance could result in Federal enforcement action against the Utility; and
WHEREAS, the Utility, in an effort to cooperate with the Division and to comply with the provisions of the Code, agrees to comply with the terms and conditions of this Agreement.
NOW, THEREFORE, the Director and the Utility AGREE as follows:
- The Utility will develop a comprehensive capacity, management, operation and maintenance program (Program) for its
sewerage system and submit to EPD for review within 180 days of notification of CMOM requirements by EPD. Upon concurrence
from EPD, the “Utility” will implement the Program.
The purposes of this Program will be to:
- Minimize the possibility of SSOs from the Utility’s sewerage system; and
- Continue to Implement an immediate response program to strive for quick mitigation of the SSO when SSOs occur; and
- Continue to prioritize areas of the sewerage system that need to be addressed via short term and long term solutions based in part on consideration of the frequency of SSOs in specific areas of the sewerage system; and
- Continue to implement a SSO reporting procedure that, at a minimum, ensures for proper reporting and posting of SSOs that occur from the “Utility’s” sewerage system in accordance with the Division’s Rules and Regulations for Water Quality Control; and
- Provide firm schedules with major milestone dates for completion of sewerage system improvements as identified in the Program; and
- Provide a Capital Improvement Plan that ensures for the ongoing funding of sewerage system improvements; and
- Develop sanitary sewer annual operating budgets that show an adequate portion of the budget is earmarked for the implementation and administration of CMOM components; and
- Provide regularly scheduled reports as defined in the Utility’s Program from the Utility to the Division to document compliance with the Utility’s Program, as provided in paragraphs [a] through [g] above.
- Upon concurrence from the Division, the Utility’s Program will remain in effect until and unless the Division provides written notice that the Program is inadequate or in need of revision. In any event, the Division will evaluate the terms of this Order within 36 months from the execution date of the Order to determine its effectiveness and if it is in need of revision or termination.
- Upon the execution date of this Order, the Utility will pay stipulated penalties for each SSO that occurs from the
sewerage system in accordance with the following terms:
- Each SSO from 30,001 gallons and up to 100,000 gallons pay $2,200; and
- Each SSO from 100,001 gallons and up to 150,000 gallons pay $4,400; and
- Each SSO from 150,001 gallons and up to 200,000 gallons pay $6,600.
Any SSO is excess of 200,000 gallons will be reviewed by the Division to determine if the penalty amount in paragraph E. is appropriate as a stipulated penalty or if a higher penalty need be assessed through a separate enforcement action.
The Division will on a quarterly basis request payment of stipulated penalties from the “Utility” that have occurred during the previous 90 day period. The payment will be due within 30 days of the date of each written request made by the Division.
It is further AGREED that the Utility’s adherence to the Program outlined above shall constitute compliance with the “Zero Tolerance Policy”, and shall further constitute positive enforcement by the Division for SSOs, which may occur.
PROVIDED, however, that the Division reserves the right to take separate enforcement action in the event that it determines:
- The Utility failed to comply with the terms of the Utility’s Program submitted in accordance with this Agreement; or
- The Utility failed to fully comply with other relevant requirements; or
- The SSO in question caused significant environmental damage and/or was deemed an event warranting a separate enforcement action by the Division.
PROVIDED FURTHER, that the Division and the Utility reserve the right to require modifications to the Utility’s Program should either party determine that its implementation is not having the desired effect of minimizing SSOs from the Utility’s sewerage system.
This Agreement is not a finding, adjudication of, or evidence of a violation of any State law by the Utility, nor does the Utility by its consent agree to any violation of State laws nor admit any liability to any third party or parties.
This Agreement does not relieve the Utility of any obligations or requirements of any of the Utility’s Permits.
This Agreement is final and effective immediately upon its execution by both parties hereto and shall not be appealable, and the Utility waives any hearing on its terms and conditions.