US sues Quincy for sewage discharges into Dorchester Bay, Boston Harbor

The federal government is suing the the City of Quincy for allegedly discharging sewage and untreated wastewater into the Boston Harbor, Dorchester Bay, Quincy Bay and other waterways from the City’s sanitary sewer and storm drain systems.

According to a statement from United States Attorney Andrew Lelling's office, this practice violates the Clean Water Act. The US Attorney’s Office, working with the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, filed the civil complaint on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“This complaint represents a critical step in the ongoing cleanup of Boston Harbor and nearby urban rivers,” said Deb Szaro, Acting Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England region, in a statement. “EPA 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.”

Quincy discharged pollutants including bacteria known as E. coli and Enteroccous onto Quincy beaches and tidal areas along the coastline, the federal complaint alleges. This was found through water samples between 2009 and 2018 taken from Quincy Bay, Sagamore Creek, Town Brook, Town River Bay and Furnace Brook which indicated sewage waste discharge. Ammonia, surfactants, and pharmaceutical compounds were found in the samples.

Federal offices allege that Quincy’s sanitary sewer system overflowed on numerous occasions discharging sewage and untreated wastewater into the waterways. These pollutants can include "disease causing organisms, metals and nutrients that threaten our communities’ water quality and can contribute to disease outbreaks, beach and shellfish bed closings, flooding, stream scouring, fishing advisories and basement backups of sewage," the statement asserts.

Penalties levied for violating the Clean Water Act are $37,500 daily for each violation that occurred on or before Nov. 2, 2015, and $54,833 daily for each violation occurring after Nov. 2, 2015.

Quincy Mayor Tom Koch will be holding a 3 p.m. news conference at Quincy City Hall to address the lawsuit.