The City of Portsmouth Works to Address EPA Wastewater Mandates
The City of Portsmouth owns and operates two wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF) that must comply with separate National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. These permits, issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with concurrence of the NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES), define how much the City has to treat the wastewater before it can be discharged to the Piscataqua River. The WWTFs are located at Pease International Tradeport and Peirce Island.
The City and its Department of Public Works (DPW) Sewer Division are working to improve the City’s wastewater system to protect the environment and meet EPA’s wastewater mandates. The City is currently under a legal order (Consent Decree) from the EPA to upgrade the Peirce Island WWTF to secondary treatment. The upgrade project will be the single largest capital expense for the sewer system to date. The City was recently notified by EPA that the Peirce Island secondary treatment permit would be made more stringent by requiring nitrogen removal to 8 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Unrelated to the order, the City anticipates the draft permit for the Pease WWTF will also be more stringent and will result in another significant WWTF upgrade.
The pie chart below illustrates the capital costs of the DPW that are driven by mandated regulatory requirements (42.6%).
What does this mean to Portsmouth Sewer Ratepayers?
Sewer Use Rates
Your sewer rates will increase. Based on initial estimates, sewer rates may double in the next five years. The City urges ratepayers to be involved in decisions that affect your quality of life. Sign up at left to receive email updates and notices.
The line chart below shows the potential rate increases associated with meeting the anticipated permit for nitrogen removal to 8 mg/L.
BELOW GRAPH TO BE UPDATED UPON COMPLETION OF THE WATER SEWER RATE STUDY
We all share the goal of protecting the environment. Mandated improvements to the wastewater system should be based on sound science that can demonstrate environmental benefits.
What We Are Doing to Ensure Your Money Is Spent Wisely
The City continues to work with other communities and regulators to improve the scientific understanding of the Great Bay to ensure scarce public resources are spent wisely. The City is participating in the Great Bay Municipal Coalition to contest regulatory permit actions that are not supported by science.