Mayor Turner Announces Consent Decree Work Begins to Upgrade Houston's Wastewater System

Apr 2, 2021

April 1, 2021 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas approved a consent decree between the City of Houston, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the State of Texas to improve Houston's wastewater system.

The consent decree will provide an estimated $2 billion of additional work in improvements to upgrade Houston's aging wastewater system and keep up with Houston's rapidly-growing population. The goal of the consent decree is to protect the environment and human health and improve the wastewater system for generations to come.

The consent decree with the EPA is part of a national program to reduce sanitary sewer overflows, which the Clean Water Act prohibits. A sanitary sewer overflow is a backup and discharge of raw wastewater that can contaminate water, cause property damage and threaten public health. The most common causes of sanitary sewer overflows are blockages (caused by grease & wipes), wastewater line breaks, and flooding (stormwater overloads the wastewater system).

Low-income communities with higher numbers of sanitary sewer overflows and aging infrastructure will be among the first priorities under the consent decree.

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