U.S. Government and the State of Illinois Reach Agreement with Peoria and the Greater Peoria Sanitary District to Reduce Water Pollution from Sewer System

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Justice, and the state of Illinois today announced an agreement with the city of Peoria and the Greater Peoria Sanitary District (GPSD) that will yield significant reductions of sewage discharges from Peoria’s wastewater systems into the Illinois River and Peoria Lake.

The settlement resolves Clean Water Act violations by the city of Peoria and GPSD related to combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit exceedances.

Under the proposed consent decree Peoria will implement a remedial measures program that will significantly reduce CSO discharges to the Illinois River and Peoria Lake. Peoria’s combined sewer system is currently overwhelmed by stormwater runoff during heavy rain or snow, causing CSO discharges to the Illinois River and Peoria Lake. These discharges consist of untreated human waste mixed with stormwater and contain high concentrations of bacteria, sediment, and other pollutants that impair water quality in the Illinois River and Peoria Lake.

The proposed consent decree provides Peoria flexibility to choose and build projects at periodic intervals as necessary to meet performance standards, reducing the number and volume of CSO discharges over time as projects are implemented.  Peoria plans to use a high proportion of green infrastructure (e.g., permeable pavement, rain gardens, and bioswales) to achieve its performance criteria.  Peoria’s overall CSO controls are estimated to cost approximately $129 million and will be completed by Jan. 1, 2040, with four interim milestones to ensure progress. 

“This consent decree resolves years of violations by Peoria and GPSD of the Clean Water Act’s requirements relating to municipal sewer systems,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “The agreement will dramatically reduce the volume of pollutants discharged to the Illinois River and Peoria Lake and represents a successful collaboration between the United States and state of Illinois to reach a promising solution.”

“This settlement will provide a model for other communities that want the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of green infrastructure and the flexibility to take advantage of improvements in green infrastructure technology over time,” said Susan Bodine, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.  “I want to thank the state of Illinois and the city for working with EPA to develop a creative solution that will benefit city residents and surrounding communities through better water quality and enhanced recreational opportunities.”

“This consent decree strengthens protections of our state waterways by reducing pollution in the Illinois River and Lake Peoria,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.  “Both bodies of water provide recreational opportunities for area residents. Under the consent decree, the city of Peoria will take important steps, such as utilizing green remedies, to improve water quality.”

The settlement also requires GPSD to implement improvements to maximize the flow of combined sewage from Peoria to its Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), including cleaning its portion of the combined sewer system.  GPSD will also eliminate the discharges from two remote treatment units within its sanitary sewer system by July 1, 2028.  GPSD’s work will cost approximately $25 million and will be fully completed by 2032.  

After the implementation of both Peoria and GPSD’s CSO controls, the average annual CSO discharges will be reduced by approximately 92 percent.  In addition, approximately 696,000 pounds of pollutants will be prevented from being discharged to the Illinois River and Peoria Lake each year.  The CSO reductions will improve water quality in the Illinois River and Peoria Lake and will allow for enhanced recreational opportunities.

The proposed consent decree also requires Peoria to develop a public participation plan that will involve Peoria’s residents in the implementation of the CSO remedial measures program and an enhanced CSO notification system to alert the public when a CSO occurs through a personal email address, if provided, or Peoria’s publicly available website.  Finally, the settlement requires Peoria to pay a $100,000 civil penalty and perform a state supplemental environmental project. For the civil penalty, Peoria will pay the United States $75,000 and pay Illinois $25,000.  The supplemental environmental project requires Peoria to perform stream and gulley restoration for Turkey Creek in the Springdale Cemetery area.  In addition, GPSD will pay a $150,000 civil penalty, split evenly between the United States and Illinois.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval after it is published in the Federal Register. 

To view the consent decree or to submit a comment, visit the Department of Justice website at: www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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    A former supervisory correctional officer at the Valdosta State Prison (VSP) in Valdosta, Georgia, pleaded guilty today to violating the civil rights of two inmates during two separate incidents.
    [Read More…]
  • Responding to Modern Cyber Threats with Diplomacy and Deterrence
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Dr. Christopher Ashley [Read More…]
  • Aviation Sanitation: FDA Could Better Communicate with Airlines to Encourage Voluntary Construction Inspections of Aircraft Galleys and Lavatories
    In U.S GAO News
    Most commercial aircraft undergo voluntary inspections to ensure that galleys and lavatories are constructed and assembled to meet the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) sanitation standards, according to industry representatives. Twenty-seven percent of the inspections FDA conducted between fiscal years 2015 and 2019 found objectionable conditions. But in nearly all of these instances, the conditions identified, such as the need for additional sealant in areas where there was a gap or seam, were corrected by the airline or aircraft manufacturer during the inspection. However, some regional airline representatives told GAO that their aircraft do not receive these construction inspections, either because larger airlines with which they have contracts told them the inspections were unnecessary or because they did not believe the inspections were relevant to them. FDA provides these inspections free of charge, upon request of aircraft manufacturers or airlines, and aircraft passing inspection receive a certificate of sanitary construction. Representatives of one aircraft manufacturer said they view the certificate as beneficial because their customers see it as a guarantee that the aircraft was constructed in a way that decreases the likelihood of microbial contamination, pests, and insects. While the construction inspections are important, they are not required, and FDA does not proactively encourage airlines to request them. By developing a process for communicating directly to all U.S.-based commercial airlines, including regional airlines, to encourage them to receive construction inspections, FDA could better ensure that aircraft meet FDA sanitation standards to protect passenger health. An Airline Representative Applying Additional Sealant in Response to an FDA Inspection FDA faces several challenges in providing construction inspections and is taking steps to address these challenges. For example, the demand for inspections by manufacturers and airlines is unpredictable, and FDA inspectors are responsible for inspections at multiple locations. To help mitigate these challenges, officials we interviewed from four FDA field offices said they usually request advance notice from industry to allow the agency time to allocate the necessary resources for construction inspections. Voluntary construction inspections are the primary mechanism by which FDA oversees compliance with its required sanitation standards for the construction of aircraft galleys and lavatories. A report accompanying the House 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill included a provision for GAO to review FDA's process for ensuring proper sanitation in aircraft galleys and lavatories. This report (1) examines the extent to which aircraft are inspected to ensure compliance with FDA's sanitation standards, and (2) discusses challenges FDA faces in providing aircraft inspections and how FDA is addressing such challenges. GAO reviewed FDA guidance, interviewed FDA officials in headquarters and four selected field offices with high volumes of construction inspections, conducted site visits to meet with FDA inspectors, and interviewed representatives of selected aircraft manufacturers and airlines. GAO recommends that FDA develop a process for communicating directly with all U.S.-based commercial airlines to encourage them to request construction inspections. FDA generally agreed with our recommendation. For more information, contact Steve Morris (202) 512-3841 MorrisS@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Developer Agrees to Mitigate Impacts to Streams and Wetlands
    In Crime News
    A developer and his companies have agreed to effectuate $900,000 in compensatory mitigation, preserve undisturbed riparian areas, conduct erosion-control work on streams, and be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property north of Houston, Texas, the Justice Department announced today.
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  • Department Press Briefing – March 5, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Georgia Return Preparer
    In Crime News
    The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division, seeking to bar an Irwinton, Georgia, tax return preparer from preparing tax returns for others.
    [Read More…]
  • Federal Budget: A Few Agencies and Program-Specific Factors Explain Most Unused Funds
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found About 1.6 percent of the total available budget authority government-wide was cancelled from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2019, averaging $23.9 billion per year. The variations in cancelled appropriations from year to year can be explained largely by trends in four departments. Together they represent 86 percent of the total government-wide cancelled appropriations, but their rate of cancellations were within a few percentage points of the government-wide rate. Four Agencies Represent the Majority of Total Cancellations from FY2009–FY2019 Cancelled appropriations for the six case study accounts GAO reviewed largely resulted from program-specific factors: Actual program needs were less than estimated. For example, actual versus projected troop levels and warfront movements can contribute to cancelled appropriations at the Department of Defense (DOD). Some program funds are only for specific purposes. For example, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families officials reported that some states declined funding for a teen sex and pregnancy prevention program, and the agency did not have the authority to redirect those funds for other purposes. Some programs' costs are more unpredictable than others. Contract and acquisition costs can be unpredictable . When final costs are less than originally estimated, agencies may have to cancel the difference. In contrast, agencies with a higher proportion of personnel expenses, which are relatively predictable, can more easily avoid cancelled appropriations. All of GAO's case study agencies have procedures in place to help limit discretionary cancelled appropriations. For example, the Army established a program that helps reduce cancelled appropriations by providing management with metrics and tools to help prevent them. Why GAO Did This Study Laws limit the time that agencies have available to use fixed-term appropriations for obligations and expenditures. However, agencies do not always obligate and outlay these funds in time, which ultimately results in cancelled appropriations. Efforts to limit the amount of cancelled appropriations result in more accurate budget estimation and fiscal projections, a more efficient appropriations process, and better service to the public. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review the status of cancelled appropriations. This report addresses (1) the extent of appropriations that were cancelled in fiscal years 2009 through 2019 and how the rate of cancelled appropriations and other characteristics differ across agencies, (2) factors that contribute to the level of cancelled appropriations in selected accounts at agencies, and (3) efforts selected agencies make to prevent the cancellation of funds. To provide government-wide trends, GAO analyzed Department of the Treasury and Office of Management and Budget data. GAO also analyzed related documents from six case study accounts at DOD, HHS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and interviewed officials at these agencies. The selected accounts included the three with the most cancelled appropriations government-wide and three additional accounts to represent the major categories of federal spending: personnel, acquisitions, grants, and contracts. For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or arkinj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Smoke Tests Protect Courtroom Air From COVID-19
    In U.S Courts
    Even as vaccines begin to protect the public from the coronavirus (COVID-19), one of the Judiciary’s biggest priorities is ensuring that the air inside courtrooms and hallways remains safe as courts schedule more in-person legal proceedings.   A new U.S. Courts video highlights a simple technique used to protect court users: a smoke test, which makes air currents inside buildings visible.
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  • President Trump’s Executive Order on Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • U.S. Welcomes Guatemala’s Designation of Hizballah as a Terrorist Organization
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • On the UN Human Rights Council’s Embrace of Authoritarian Regimes
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]