In papers that were filed Aug. 29 in federal district court in Wilmington, the United States, New Castle County and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) have proposed a settlement of the federal government's lawsuit over New Castle County storm sewer systems.
In its suit, the U.S. alleged that New Castle County and DelDOT failed to obtain a required Clean Water Act permit for their storm sewer systems. In the settlement, the defendants agreed to pay a $275,000 penalty and comply with the permit issued by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control on May 1. The permit requires them to carry out a storm water management program to reduce contaminated runoff.
"Uncontrolled storm water runoff from urban and rural areas poses a serious environmental threat to our waterways. The ultimate goal of this settlement is to protect and improve Delaware waterways," said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA's mid-Atlantic Region.
Storm water runoff from urban, residential, and agricultural areas is often contaminated by pollutants such as oil, grease, chemicals and nutrients. Uncontrolled storm water runoff is a major cause of water pollution in Delaware and throughout the country.
As part of the settlement, the defendants have also committed to two special environmental projects costing an estimated $500,000 each. One project will reduce polluted storm water runoff from portions of Interstate 95. The other project will hook up failing septic systems to the county's sanitary sewer system.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The defendants neither admitted nor denied liability as part of the settlement.