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Comment period closes, consent decree awaits next steps

Once the Sewer District’s consent decree—a $3 billion 25-year agreement between the Sewer District and Federal and State agencies to reduce raw-sewage discharges to the environment—was lodged in Federal court in December, it was open for a 30-day public comment period which closed January 28. But what happens to those comments, and what is the status of the agreement?

Approximately 83 comments have been received as of February 2, according to the US Department of Justice. That includes all comments received via email, but the DOJ will allow until the end of this week for any comments mailed via US Postal Service.

The Department of Justice Environment & Natural Resources Division (ENRD) reviews all comments to determine which may impact language or details of the consent decree. Those with merit are presented to the Regional Sewer District so modifications may be discussed. Once comments have been reviewed and accounted for, the ENRD moves to have the decree entered, and a Federal District Court judge decides if the decree becomes legally binding.

There is no timeframe as to when the ENRD may make such a motion. We will post updates as news becomes available.

Updated February 2, 2011