EPA has ordered the village of Port Chester, N.Y. to improve the way it handles run-off from rainwater and correct violations of the federal Clean Water Act after EPA sampling revealed high levels of two types of bacteria in village stormwater. Stormwater, which is from rainfall or melting snow, can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants from surfaces before it flows into a waterbody. Port Chester discharges stormwater into the Byram River, which empties into Long Island Sound.

“Improper management of stormwater can have serious environmental consequences for our harbors, rivers, lakes and streams,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “Long Island Sound is already a stressed waterbody, and run-off is one of the bigger culprits, so it’s important that EPA remains vigilant in holding accountable anyone who doesn’t handle their stormwater properly.”

In June 2008 and April 2009, EPA sampled stormwater at several locations around Port Chester and both times found levels of the bacteria fecal and total coliform that exceeded New York’s state water quality standards. Both bacteria can lead to health problems in people and many aquatic species. Port Chester’s failure to control discharges of the polluted stormwater violated requirements of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, a program under the federal Clean Water Act that regulates stormwater discharges associated with sewer systems. Port Chester also failed to fully implement its stormwater management plan, which New York State requires of municipalities that discharge stormwater.

Under EPA’s order, Port Chester must prepare, implement and enforce a stormwater management program to identify and correct improper sources of bacteria discharges by Dec. 31, 2009. Port Chester must also monitor stormwater discharges for six months after the plan has been established to ensure bacteria discharge problems have corrected, and report its finding to EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.