Skip to main content
Press Release

Federal Penalty for Swampscott Water Pollution

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – The Town of Swampscott entered into a Consent Decree today agreeing to pay a $65,000 civil penalty and to take critical remedial measures to address pollution the Town discharged into the ocean near local beaches.

The Consent Decree is the result of a federal enforcement action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The complaint filed simultaneously with the Consent Decree alleges that Swampscott discharged pollutants into its storm water drainage system in violation of its permits. 

“By entering this Consent Decree, Swampscott will take the steps necessary to stop pollutants from entering Massachusetts and Nahant Bays,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.  “Swampscott is required to locate the source of all unauthorized discharges that enter its storm drains and eliminate them.  Successful implementation of the Consent Decree will result in cleaner storm water system discharges and a healthier environmental for all.”

“Under this settlement, the Town will continue to work cooperatively toward controlling contaminated storm water reaching beaches,” said Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator of the EPA’s New England office. “The Town has made improvements in recent years, and we expect that progress to continue.”

Between 2010 and 2012, the EPA tested multiple water samples from the Town’s storm water outfalls and found that the Town was discharging multiple pollutants into waters of the Massachusetts and Nahant Bays.  These pollutants included e. coli, enterococcus bacteria, ammonia, and pharmaceutical and personal care products.  The Town continues to discharge untreated wastewater containing sewage and other pollutants from its systems into these waters.

The Consent Decree imposes a schedule for the Town to screen and monitor its storm water outfalls during dry and wet weather.  Where pollutants are found, the Town must eliminate the flows conveying the pollutants.  In addition, the Town must take action to control runoff from land redevelopment projects.

The Consent Decree also assesses a $65,000 civil penalty against the Town for its Clean Water Act violations.  Swampscott is subject to vigorous reporting requirements to ensure compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree.  If it fails to comply, it may be subject to additional penalties as high as $2,500 per each day of violation.

Preventing pollutants from contaminating surface waters of the United States is one of the EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives.  Municipal wastewater presents significant health threats to those using contaminated waters for recreational use.

The Consent Decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.  Once it is published in the Federal Register, a copy of the Consent Decree will be available on the Justice Department website at

U.S. Attorney Ortiz and EPA Regional Administrator Spalding, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan M. Poswistilo of Ortiz’s Civil Division, Senior Attorney Michael Wagner of the EPA, and the Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division. 

Updated September 18, 2015