Save the Sound, Soundkeeper, Inc., and Atlantic Clam Farms have reached a settlement with Village of Mamaroneck regarding a federal case brought by the groups against Westchester County and 11 municipalities. This comes less than a month after the environmental organizations reached a similar settlement with the Village of Port Chester. The litigation remains pending against the County of Westchester and nine municipalities that discharge sewage that reaches Long Island Sound.
The agreement requires the Village of Mamaroneck to make repairs to its sewage system to fully comply with the limits of the Westchester County Environmental Facilities Sewer Act by no later than the end of 2019. The three organizations and the Village have agreed to final terms and will present a Consent Order to a federal judge for approval. The nine municipalities that remain in the lawsuit have agreed to the stipulated orders requiring a study of their sewer systems within a certain time frame, but have not yet agreed, unlike the Villages of Mamaroneck and Port Chester, to finally repair their systems by a date certain.
“By agreeing to enforceable requirements to solve their leaking sewage problem once and for all by 2019, the Village of Mamaroneck is joining Port Chester as a leader,” said Roger Reynolds, legal director of Save the Sound. “These two villages are taking the necessary steps to protect their citizens’ health and clean up Long Island Sound. The surrounding municipalities should follow suit by fixing their systems in a timely manner.”
For decades the sewer lines that run under Westchester streets and lawns have been leaking raw sewage into local waterways, causing low oxygen, high bacteria levels, and long-term harm to the Sound. The County and municipalities are aware of this ongoing pollution and have known since at least 2003 that actions taken to date have been inadequate to solve the problem.
“A lot of Westchester residents don’t realize that poorly maintained sewer pipes are one of the reasons their beaches are closed after rain, and why they can’t harvest clams or oysters in local bays and harbors,” said Bill Lucey, Save the Sound’s new LI Soundkeeper. “The impacts of this pollution are real and personal. The benefits of removing raw sewage from the Sound will make life better for everyone.”
The 2015 complaint alleged that the County and the 11 municipalities illegally discharged raw sewage into rivers and Long Island Sound through Sanitary Sewer Overflows due to poorly maintained sewage collection systems. The municipalities that remain in the litigation and that have not committed to fixing their systems by 2019 are Harrison, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Pelham Manor, Rye, Rye Brook, Scarsdale, Town of Mamaroneck, and White Plains.
Save the Sound is seeking a comprehensive long-term fix that will: Fix leaking town and county pipes; Fix leaking pipes that run from private homes and businesses into the public sewer system; Establish enforceable timelines for repairs; Create a plan for the long term maintenance and operation of the sewage collection system that will avoid future pollution and costly repairs; and Establish sufficient funding sources to complete the necessary work to eliminate overflows and to pay for the future ongoing maintenance of the pipes.
A copy of the original 2015 complaint can be found at