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Feds: Quincy Discharged E. Coli, Ammonia Onto City Beaches

Wollaston Beach is shown in April 2012. (Eastern Nazarene College via Flickr)
Wollaston Beach is shown in April 2012. (Eastern Nazarene College via Flickr)
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The city of Quincy violated the federal Clean Water Act by discharging pollutants, including E. coli, onto city beaches and tidal areas from 2009 through 2018, according to a civil complaint filed by the federal government that exposes the city to significant fines.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan M. Poswistilo is leading the case, which also alleges that water samples taken from Quincy Bay, Sagamore Creek, Town Brook, Town River Bay and Furnace Brook from the period 2009 through 2013 "showed the discharge of ammonia, surfactants and pharmaceutical compounds, which are indicative of sewage waste," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced Friday.

"Quite frankly, I'm outraged by the actions," Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch said during a press conference. He said the city has spent "tens of millions of dollars" over the last decade trying to address what he called environmental "challenges."

"This city has not ignored this issue," said the mayor, who was joined by Congressman Stephen Lynch. He recalled swimming as a child at Wollaston Beach and said that beach is "100 times cleaner" now than it was then.

Prosecutors say sewage and untreated wastewater was discharged into Boston Harbor, Dorchester Bay, Quincy Bay and other waterways from the city's sanitary sewer and storm drain systems. Under federal law, the city faces daily penalties of $37,500 for each violation that occurred on or before Nov. 2, 2015, and $54,833 for each violation that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

"The Clean Water Act is designed to protect the waters of the United States for the health and enjoyment of its citizens. This complaint demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that our waters and beaches are protected from discharges such as raw sewage and seeks to require that the City of Quincy take the important and necessary steps to do so," Lelling said in a statement.

Deb Szaro, acting administrator of federal Environmental Protection Agency's New England region, said the complaint "represents a critical step in the ongoing cleanup of Boston Harbor and nearby urban rivers."

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