New EPA regs mean rising costs at local waste water treatment facilities

NORWICH – In the wake of large-scale efforts put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, local taxpayers are expected to see increased costs for the treatment of city sewage that take effect this year.

The City of Norwich waste water treatment plant is among hundreds of facilities in the Northeast mandated to remove higher amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen from waste water before dumping it back into local rivers. The new regulations kick in this year and while city officials say they are able to adhere to EPA standards, it could cost upwards of $60,000 annually in chemical costs alone, up from the $34,000 currently spent on the process.

Upon treatment, the city’s waste water is dumped into the Chenango River, which then flows into the Susquehanna River near Binghamton and then on to the Chesapeake Bay just south of the Pennsylvania border. According to the EPA, nitrogen and phosphorus are two leading agents contributing to high amounts of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Efforts to clean up the bay have been ongoing for nearly 30 years, but have shown little impact, and an executive order was issued by President Barack Obama in 2010 to increase cleanup efforts.

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