On Friday, March 15, the United States Attorney’s Office of Andrew Lelling filed a civil complaint against the nearby city of Quincy for violating the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act protects the safety of the waterways of the U.S. for environmental and public use. Quincy is accused of dumping untreated sewage and untreated storm water into local waterways such as Furnace Brook, Quincy Bay and Dorchester Bay between the years of 2009 and 2018. The complaint alleges that the city has dumped pollutants, such as E. coli and Enterococcus, onto Quincy beaches and other places along the coastline of the city for over a decade, primarily during the years of 2009 to 2013.
According to the Department of Justice’s public statement on the issue, “This complaint represents a critical step in the ongoing cleanup of Boston Harbor and nearby urban rivers. [The Environmental Protection Agency] is committed to ensuring the restoration of Boston Harbor, and addressing sewage discharges in local communities continues in order to protect public health and clean water.” The statement was made by the Acting Regional Administrator of the EPA’s New England region, Deb Szaro. At a news conference last month, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch made a statement saying, “The reality is there’s been great improvement. We’ll continue down that road, but I believe the lawsuit and what the EPA wants is (sic) far too aggressive for the city of Quincy and the residents to afford.” Mayor Koch was joined by Representative Stephen Lynch at the news conference, who was in support of the city’s work in cleaning up their environmental issues.
The statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts stated that, “The Clean Water Act provides for monetary daily penalties of $37,500 for each violation that occurred on or before Nov. 2, 2015 and $54,833 for each violation occurring after Nov. 2, 2015.” Quincy faces paying tens of millions of dollars if they lose the suit against Attorney Lelling’s office. Officials from the EPA and the Attorney’s Office are urging for the fines to be paid, while city officials are urging for a negotiation of the issue. The city of Quincy has claimed that they have spent over $30 million on sewer cleanup and repairment over the past 25 years. A spokesman, Bruce Berman, from ‘Save the Harbor, Save the Bay’ is optimistic that both sides will come to a resolution reporting that, “Clean water is a core family value here in the Bay State. And I’m absolutely confident that Quincy and the EPA and the Department of Justice will come to an understanding that will continue the trajectory toward clean water.”
The complaint filed a month ago from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan M. Poswistilo of Lelling’s Civil Division. The issue is still being worked on, but as of now it seems that both sides, the EPA and Department of Justice and city officials from Quincy, are at a standstill on how to proceed with finding a resolution. No more articles or statements have been released on the civil suit since it was first announced.