CSO Long-Term Control Plan

Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA) Combined Sewer System Communities:
The Future of Our Waterways is in Your Hands










The Bergen County Utilities Authority is hosting a region Supplemental Combined Sewer Overflow Team meeting on January 28th at 10:00 AM in the Fort Lee Municipal Building.  Members of the public are invited to attend this meeting and learn about the regional efforts to address this environmental issue.

Did you know that the communities of Fort Lee, Hackensack and Ridgefield Park have drainage areas with Combined Sewer Systems (CSS) that discharge into local waters during heavy rainfall? Did you know that you can help reduce these discharges?

Combined Sewer Systems are typically located in older urban areas and were constructed to provide for the transportation of sanitary sewage, industrial discharges and stormwater within the same pipe. The combined sewer systems in these municipalities were designed to transport all sewage flows and some wet weather flows for treatment at the Bergen County Utilites Authority Water Pollution Control Facilities in Little Ferry. The system was also designed to discharge excess flows from the Combined Sewer System owned and operated by these municipalities as a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) discharge into the adjacent waterways. The transport and treatment systems owned and operated by the BCUA have limited capacity and if CSSs were not permitted to overflow, the community would flood.

The History of CSOs
In the latter 1800s Combined Sewer Systems were constructed in urban areas. But as the urban areas grew larger, the water bodies grew more polluted. In the early 1900s, pollution in the waterways in the waterways was so extensive that it caused the end of recreational uses, such as fishing, swimming and boating.

In response, interceptor sewers   were built to convey the sanitary and industrial flows to newly built wastewater treatment plants located downstream of the cities. The interceptor sewers and treatment plants were sized to treat all of the dry weather flows and a portion of the wet weather flows.

Regulators were installed on the outfalls. These regulators were designed to divert all the dry weather flows to the interceptor sewer. During a rainfall event the regulators would divert the combined dry weather sanitary and wet weather storm flows to the interceptor up to its capacity. If flows exceeded the capacity of the interceptor sewer, the regulator would then divert the excess flow to the river. These discharges are called combined sewer overflows (CSOs).

What has been done to solve the problem?
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 and 1977, known as the Clean Water Act, established the goal of making all rivers fishable and swimmable. The Act established water quality criteria for receiving waters as well as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit system regulating the discharges to the receiving. The primary goal of the Clean Water Act was directed at upgrading wastewater treatment plants. As existing treatment plants were upgraded and the new treatment plants built, the quality of the receiving waters began improving.

While the quality of the receiving waters was improving, they still were not meeting water quality standards. In 1995, all CSO discharges were also brought into the discharge permit system under the General New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) Permit for Combined Sewer Systems. The purpose of this permit was to develop computer models to better understand how these systems work and use this to evaluate various means and methods that could be used to reduce the pollutant loadings of CSOs on the receiving waters.

In 2015, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued final Individual NJPDES Permits to municipalities with CSS and authorities that transport and treat wastewater to undertake a Regional Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Long-Term Control Plan (LTCP). The members of the BCUA CSO Group are not the only municipalities with combined sewer systems and CSO discharges.  Additional information on other municipalities and authorities with individual NJPDES permits can be obtained at the NJDEP website as noted below.

BCUA and member communities with CSSs have joined together in the BCUA CSO Group to coordinate and final a Regional CSO LTCP.  The LTCP will evaluate the means, costs and effectiveness of control alternatives for reducing the frequency and volume of CSO discharges and will establish a plan, cost, and construction schedule for implementation of the plan.  It is anticipated that due to the high cost of construction, the LTCP may take up to twenty-five to thirty years to fully implement.

What can you do to help now? SLOW the FLOW
As a community and as an individual you can help reduce the amount of water that enters the Combined Sewer System during wet weather events but this will take a shift in thinking. In the past, homeowners treated stormwater as something that should be diverted off their property as quickly as possible. The result would be flows in the combined sewer system that would exceed the treatment plant’s capacity.

By taking a few simple and inexpensive steps, you can hold some of the rainwater on your property during the storm. The water you retain can be used on your property for watering plants or released to the sewer system gradually during dry weather.

Bergen County Utilities Authority offers a Rain Barrel Incentive Program as well as other tips for reducing the impact of rain water on the combined sewer system.

• Rain-derived Infiltration and Inflow Reduction Program (BCUA)

• Homeowner’s Guide (BCUA) and Rain Barrel Incentive Program

In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection offers information about Green Infrastructure that you can install when making modifications to your property.
• Environmental Protection Agency
Green Infrastructure

BCUA is Studying Alternatives
The BCUA CSO Group is currently undertaking the various studies and investigations needed to develop the LTCP, which is due to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) on or before June 1, 2020.  At the present time the individual members of the group are undertaking a Sewer System Characterization Study that includes updating the existing computer models for their system and holding meetings with their CSO Supplemental Teams to educate and obtain public input on the work being undertaken.  The Sewer System Characterization Study Report is due to the NJDEP on or before July 1, 2018.

Additional information will be provided on this link as it is developed.

For More Information See these Important Links

• CSO Notification System

• The city of Hackensack (should go to the CSO portion of their site)

• The village of Ridgefield Park (should go to the CSO portion of their site)

• The borough of Fort Lee (should go to the CSO portion of their site)

• New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water Quality
Combined Sewer Overflows

• Environmental Protection Agency
National Enforcement Initiative: Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation's Waters

• New Jersey Future CSO Fact sheet

• Clean Water New Jersey