Tuesday, September 10, 2024
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location Name
Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Lessons from the Longest Consent Decree Negotiation in EPA History
Small Systems

Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Authority (WWTA) initially entered into a Consent Decree (CD) negotiation with EPA Region IV in October 2014. After 8 plus years of intense negotiations involving EPA Region IV, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office and multiple other governments and non-government parties, the final Consent Decree was lodged in October 2023 and is expected to go into effect in early 2024. This presentation will provide an overview of these lengthy negotiations and describe the lessons learned from this process. Of particular interest to municipalities will be what information that will need to be developed early in the process, so that you are able to effectively negotiate favorable terms and timelines and maintain future flexibility as you move forward in your Consent Decree. Understanding the terms and conditions of these orders and what future rate impacts you are committing to when entering these orders is also invaluable. This presentation will review some of the “standard language” found in Consent Decrees and demonstrate how this “standard language” can be modified for the uniqueness of their systems and situations, despite the “one size fits all” approach sometimes taken during these negotiations. Specific elements of the WWTA Consent Decree will be discussed, including the success of the early action rehabilitation projects, as well as efforts to date in reducing chronic sanitary sewer overflows. These include the Sewer Overflow Response Plan, the Sanitary Sewer Evaluation and Rehabilitation program and prioritization of the system into work groups to be completed over the CD term, as well as specific elements of their Capacity, Management, Operations and Maintenance Program. The end result of this presentation will provide municipalities and utilities with knowledge needed to prevent themselves from being the recipient of a Federal Consent Decree or the understanding of how to properly prepare and negotiate more favorable terms.