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United States v. Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Auth.

Citation: 17 ELR 20893
No. No. 78-0038(CC), 25 ERC 1921/(D.P.R., 05/04/1987)

The court holds that the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) is liable for a $32 million civil penalty under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act for multiple violations of a consent order concerning Puerto Rico's sewage treatment program. The court rejects PRASA's request not to enforce the order because of ongoing settlement discussions, noting that such discussions have been underway for years. Moreover, PRASA's claim that it had insufficient time to respond to specific instances of alleged violations is belied by its failure to request more time and its ongoing failure to challenge the factual findings of the court-appointed Monitor. The court rejects PRASA's argument that its earlier agreement to implement pollution control manuals was an agreement only to explain the manuals to its operators, and not actually to comply with them. The end result of the overall situation, the court finds, is that most of the waste water discharged daily by Puerto Rico's 3.3 million inhabitants is not being adequately treated.

The court applies the schedule of stipulated penalties for non-compliance contained in the earlier consent order, finds a total non-compliance fine of $32,032,600, and requests motions from the parties indicating how to manage this money.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Juan Llewellyn
Environmental Protection Agency
26 Fed'l Plaza, New York NY 10278
(212) 264-2525

Ronald G. Gluck
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5289

Counsel for Defendants
Elizabeth Armstrong, Ass't General Counsel
Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority
San Juan, Puerto Rico

David E. McGiffert, Michael G. Michaelson
Covington & Burling
1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20044
(202) 662-6000