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    City of Worcester

    The City of Worcester has enacted Storm Water Ordinances in order to comply with state and federal environmental regulations. The City of Worcester is the permitting authority for all land disturbing activities and requires the land owner to maintain all on-site stormwater control facilities and all open space areas (e.g. parks or “green” areas) required by the approved stormwater control plan. The City of Worcester will only provide construction permits to projects that establish a plan to manage stormwater runoff occurring during the construction process. The City of Worcester, under the NPDES program, also has the authority to inspect properties for noncompliance and can issue a notice of violation (NOV) for any deficiency or infraction onsite. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of any stormwater facilities or practices located on the property. The City of Worcester has the authority to inspect stormwater facilities and practices in order to ascertain that they properly maintained and functioning.

    Sewers & Storm Water Management Ordinance

    § 2. Permits Required

    (a) No unauthorized person shall uncover, make any connections with or any opening into, use, repair, alter, or disturb any public sewer or appurtenance thereof, or any building sewer or other private sewer that connects to a public sewer without a sewer connection permit issued by the commissioner.

    (b) No person shall make any new discharge, or increase the volume or change in the character of any previously permitted discharge, into the public sewers without a discharge permit issued by the commissioner.

    (1) For purposes of this subsection (b), the term “previously permitted discharge” shall mean a discharge which has been authorized under a sewer discharge or connection permit issued by the commissioner under this chapter for which the capacity fee required by section six hereof has been paid; or, in the event that no sewer discharge or connection permit containing a maximum authorized discharge volume has been issued, the “gallons per day” as listed in the State Environmental Code, Title 5 (310 C.M.R. 15.203)(hereafter “Title Five”) for the “type of establishment” listed in Title Five as determined by the commissioner shall be used. For the purpose of this section, the “type of establishment” will be that use limited to the previous 10 years.

    (2) An “increase in volume” shall mean and be calculated by subtracting the previously permitted discharge volume from the “gallons per day” as listed in the State Environmental Code, Title 5 (310 C.M.R. 15.203) for the appropriate category of use as determined by the commissioner.

    (3) Any person owning property which is connected to the public sewers who expands or changes the use of that property so as to require or obtain a “certificate of use and occupancy” under the state building code or who changes the use from one to another “type of establishment” listed in Title Five shall file an application for a sewer discharge or connection permit with the commissioner under this chapter. Whenever the increase in volume is greater than five-hundred G.P.D., the commissioner shall not issue a sewer discharge or connection permit until the property owner pays the capacity fee established under section 6(b)(2) of this chapter for each new gallon per day by which the increase in volume exceeds the previously permitted discharge by one thousand five-hundred G.P.D.

    (4) In addition to the specific daily penalty provided in section 2(b)(9)(C) of chapter 15 of these revised ordinances, any person who owns property which is connected to the public sewers who increases the volume of the discharge without a permit as required by this section shall be deemed to have incurred the obligation to pay the capacity fee established herein and shall be subject to a municipal charges lien in the amount of the sewer capacity required described herein and the commissioner shall be authorized and obligated to record such a lien in the registry of deeds and shall, if such charge remains unpaid, certify such charge to the city assessor and committed on the warrant to the collector of taxes.

    (c) No person shall make a temporary discharge of treated, contaminated groundwater or surface water into the public sewer without a temporary discharge permit issued by the Commissioner.

    § 6. Capacity Fee

    (a) The city council does hereby make the following findings of fact: That, the capacity of the public sewers of the city is inadequate due to the extensive infiltration and inflow invasions of storm waters, groundwaters and drain waters; that, said lack of capacity results in the discharge of pollutants into the waters of the city and the commonwealth and creates a danger to public health and public nuisance; that, further connections to the public sewer would exacerbate the danger to the public health; that, a total moratorium on sewer connections would not serve the public interest or the citizens of the city, particularly with respect to the shortage of housing accommodations, and; that, those proposing to introduce additional wastewater to the public sewer must bear a portion of the expense of reducing infiltration and/or inflow.

    (b) The commissioner shall grant permits to applicants to connect their private sewers to the public sewers in accordance with this chapter and any other applicable provision of law; provided, however, that the commissioner shall deny all applications for sewer connection permits unless:

    (1) The director of health inspection certifies in writing to the commissioner that the proposed connection is necessary to eliminate or alleviate an existing or imminent public health nuisance caused by the failure of one or more septic systems and the applicant complies with (b)(2) below; or

    (2) The applicant pays, in addition to the sewer connection permit fee established by the commissioner pursuant to chapter two, § 24, hereof, a capacity fee based on the number of gallons per day proposed to be introduced by the new connection. The amount of gallons per day to be introduced by the new connection shall be calculated in accordance with the sewage flow estimates contained in subsection (e) herein, or as determined by the commissioner. The capacity fee shall be adjusted each year, on or about July 1, based on the determined city of Worcester Transportation and Treatment (T&T) cost for the previous year. When the capacity fee established herein exceeds ten thousand dollars the property owner may apply to the commissioner to apportion so much of the fee that exceeds ten thousand dollars pursuant to the provisions set forth below in subparts (A) and (B). The interest rate on such apportionments shall be the rate applied to apportioned betterments assessments. The commissioner shall notify the city treasurer of any such apportionments and the city treasurer shall bill and collect any such apportioned capacity fee.

    (A) When the capacity fee exceeds ten thousand dollars but is less than fifty thousand dollars the property owner shall pay the initial ten thousand dollars and the balance may be apportioned over an eight year period.

    (B) When the capacity fee exceeds fifty thousand dollars the property owner shall pay the initial ten thousand dollars and the balance may be apportioned over a ten year period.

    (3) Notwithstanding the above, the commissioner may refuse to grant any permit for any amount of additional wastewater whenever he or she determines that inadequacies in the design or capacity of the sewer system exist; or that the additional wastewater flow proposed to be introduced into the public sewer by the applicant exceeds the capacity of the public sewer, sewer works, sewage treatment process or equipment, or would otherwise have an adverse effect on the sewer system or the public health. In support of its request for a permit, the applicant may be required to hire a professional engineer (P.E.) to evaluate impacts on the sanitary sewer and sewer works.

    (c) The fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited into a separate account and, after recommendations by the city manager and appropriation by the city council, be expended by the commissioner to pay for the removal of infiltration and inflow, including eliminating illegal connections and improvements to pumping stations.

    (d) For purposes of determining the additional flow to be introduced by any new connection, sewage flow shall be based on the State Environmental Code, Title 5 (310 CMR 15.203).

    (e) For purposes of this section a “bedroom” means any portion of a dwelling, which is so designed as to furnish the minimum isolation necessary for use as a sleeping area. Such area shall not include kitchen, bathroom, dining area, halls, or unfinished cellar; but may include bedroom, den, study, sewing room, or sleeping loft.

    § 17. Certain Discharges Prohibited

    No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged any storm water, surface water, groundwater, roof runoff, subsurface drainage, uncontaminated cooling water, or unpolluted industrial process waters to any public sanitary sewer of the city or to any public sanitary sewer of any member of the district, directly or indirectly. The foregoing types of connections shall not be made, directly or indirectly, to the combined sewer, unless approved by the commissioner.

    § 18. Permissible Discharges

    Storm water and all other unpolluted drainage shall be discharged to such drains as are specifically designated as storm drains, combined sewers and drains (with approval) or to a natural outlet approved by the commissioner. Industrial cooling water or unpolluted process waters may be discharged, on approval of the commissioner, to a storm drain, combined sewer and drains or a natural outlet.

    § 19. Temporary Discharge Permits

    1. No person shall make any temporary connection or otherwise discharge treated, contaminated groundwater or surface water to the public sewer whether through an existing or new connection without first obtaining the permission of the commissioner. In granting such permission the commissioner shall have authority to set flow requirements, impose restrictions, and/or deny a proposed discharge in order to protect either receiving water bodies or facilities from possible degradation or impairment.
    2. The owner or his authorized agent shall make application on a form furnished by the commissioner. The permit application shall be supplemented by any plans, specifications, or other information considered pertinent in the judgment of the commissioner.
    3. In addition to any permit and inspection fees established by the commissioner pursuant to §24 of chapter two of these Revised Ordinances, a sewer use charge shall be levied against the owner or his authorized agent for the temporary discharge of treated, contaminated groundwater or surface water to the public sewer system through either an existing or new connection. The charge shall be based on the metered amount of discharge to the sewerage system, and shall be equivalent to the current effective sewer use charge.
    4. The owner or his authorized agent shall meter the flow of the discharge on a continuous basis. Said metering devices shall be read monthly by the department. The owner or his authorized agent shall be billed on a semi-annual basis, or more frequently if approved by the commissioner, for all recorded discharges to the sewerage system.
    5. Notwithstanding the provisions of any ordinance, rule or regulation to the contrary, the commissioner, upon request, shall have the authority to reduce the assessment of the sewer use fee pursuant to § 26 of this chapter in order to provide additional incentives for the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites, and to assist in the management of groundwater cleanup operations of such sites. Such reductions in the sewer use charges shall be administered in accordance with the following:
      1. For an initial period not to exceed three (3) years from the date of issuance of the applicable temporary discharge permit, the sewer use fee for a qualifying groundwater treatment system shall be fifty percent (50%) of the fee otherwise established under § 26. Upon demonstrated need, the permittee may receive up to two, one (1) year extensions of reduced fee payments.
      2. The fees established under subparagraph (i) above, shall be determined for a maximum of three (3) one-year periods, maximum discharge rate anticipated for the system during the ensuing year. Under these provisions, the yearly discharge fee shall be calculated and paid in full upon approval of an application to the commissioner for the first year of discharge, and at the one and two year anniversaries of the permit, the permittee may submit a recalculated discharge request using revised flow estimates for the ensuing year.
      3. In order to operate under a temporary discharge permit as a qualified groundwater treatment system, the operator shall provide the commissioner with a copy of the proposed system’s approval under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (310 CMR 40.00).
      4. Once the groundwater treatment system becomes operational, the operator thereof shall provide the commissioner with monthly monitoring reports containing detailed information on the quality and quantity of system effluent, in accordance with the pertinent regulations of the city and the district.

    § 20. Discharges Categorically Prohibited

    No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged any of the following described waters or wastes to any public sewers:

    (a) Any gasoline, benzene, naphtha, fuel oil, or other flammable or explosive liquid, solid or gas;

    (b) Any waters or wastes containing toxic or poisonous solids, liquids, or gases in sufficient quantity, either singly or by interaction with other wastes, to injure or interfere with any sewage treatment process, constitute a hazard to humans or animals, create a public nuisance, or create any hazard in the receiving waters of the district's sewage treatment plant's effluent;

    (c) Any waters or wastes having a pH lower than 6.5 or in excess of 9.5, or having any other corrosive property capable of causing damage or hazard to structures, equipment, and personnel of sewage works;

    (d) Solid or viscous substances in quantities or of such size capable of causing obstruction to the flow in sewers, or other interference with the proper operation of the sewage works such as, but not limited to ashes, cinders, sand, mud, straw, shavings, metals, sawdust, hair, oyster shells, lobster shells, clam shells, glass, rags, feathers, tar, plastics, wood, underground garbage, whole blood, paunch manure, fleshing, entrails, paper dishes, cups, milk containers, and similar paper or plastic containers (either whole or ground by garbage grinders), and other similar materials.

    § 21. Discharges Prohibited by Commissioner

    (a) No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged the following described substances, materials, waters, or wastes if it appears likely in the opinion of the Commissioner that such wastes can harm either the sewers, sewage treatment process, or equipment, have an adverse effect in the receiving stream, or can otherwise endanger life, limb, public property, or constitute a nuisance.

    (b) In forming an opinion as to the acceptability of these wastes, the commissioner shall give consideration to such factors as the quantities of subject wastes in relation to flows and velocities in the sewers, materials of construction of the sewers, nature of the sewage treatment process, capacity of the sewage treatment plant, degree of treatability of wastes in the sewage treatment plant, and other pertinent factors. The substances prohibited are:

    (1) any liquid or vapor having a temperature higher than one hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

    (2) any water or waste containing fats, oils, or grease (FOG) or wax, whether emulsified or not, in excess of one hundred (100) milligrams per liter or containing substances which may solidify or become viscous at temperatures between thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit and one hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

    (3) any garbage that has not been properly shredded. The installation and operation of any garbage grinder equipped with a motor of three-fourths (3/4) horsepower or greater shall be subject to the review and approval of the commissioner.

    (4) any waters or wastes containing strong acid iron pickling wastes, or concentrated plating solutions whether neutralized or not.

    (5) any waters or wastes containing iron, chromium, cadmium, copper, zinc, barium, arsenic, silver, mercury, lead, cyanide phosphates, sodium chlorate, and similar objectionable or toxic substances, or wastes exerting an excessive chlorine requirement, to such degree that any such material received in the composite sewage at the sewage treatment plant exceeds the limits established by the commissioner for such material.

    (6) any waters or wastes containing phenols or other taste or odor producing substances, in such concentrations exceeding limits which may be established as necessary by the commissioner after treatment of the composite sewage to meet the requirements of the state, federal, and other public agencies or jurisdiction over such discharge to the receiving waters.

    (7) any radioactive wastes or isotopes of such half-life or concentration as may exceed limits established by the commissioner in compliance with applicable state or federal regulations.

    (8) any waters or wastes having a pH lower than 5.5 or in excess of 9.5.

    (9) materials which exert or cause:

    (A) unusual concentrations of inert suspended solids (such as, but not limited to, Fullers earth, lime slurries, and lime residues) or of dissolved solids (such as, but not limited to, sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, and ferrous iron compounds);

    (B) excessive discoloration (such as, but not limited to, dye wastes and vegetable tanning solutions);

    (C) unusual biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), or chlorine requirements in such quantities as to constitute a treatment problem for the sewage treatment plan;

    (D) unusual volume of flow or concentration of wastes constituting "slugs" as defined herein.

    (10) waters or wastes containing substances which are not amenable to treatment or reduction by the sewage treatment processes employed or are amenable to treatment only to such degree that the sewage treatment plant effluent cannot meet the requirements of other agencies having jurisdiction over discharge of effluent to the receiving waters.

    (11) discharge sources in accordance with § 12 and § 17.

    § 23. Obligations of Owners

    (a) Grease traps and interceptors shall be provided in accordance with § 35 of this chapter.

    (b) Where pretreatment or flow-equalizing facilities are provided for any waters or wastes, they shall be maintained continuously in satisfactory and effective operation by the owner at his or her expense.

    (c) When required by the commissioner, the owner of any property serviced by a building sewer or other private sewer carrying industrial wastes shall install a suitable control manhole together with such necessary meters, and other appurtenances in said sewer to facilitate observation, sampling, and measurement of wastes. Such manhole, when required, shall be located in a safe and accessible place, and shall be installed by the owner so as to be safe and accessible at all times.

    § 24. Measurement and Test Standards

    1. All measurements, tests, and analyses of the characteristics of waters and wastes to which reference is made in this chapter shall be determined in accordance with the latest edition of "Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater," published by the American Public Health Association Inc., and shall be determined at the control manhole provided, or upon suitable samples taken at said control manhole. Sampling shall be carried out by customarily accepted methods to reflect the effect of the constituents of the waters or wastes upon the sewage works and to determine the existence of hazards to life, limb, and property. The particular analyses involved will determine whether a twenty-four hour composite of all outfalls of a premise is appropriate or whether a grab sample or samples should be taken. Normally, but not always, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and suspend solids analyses are obtained from twenty-four hour composites of all outfalls, whereas pH measurements are determined from periodic grab samples. Where necessary, equipment shall be provided to allow for automatic sampling and measuring. The aforesaid "Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater" shall be maintained in the office of the commissioner and shall be available for public examination at reasonable times.
    2. All industries discharging into a public sewer shall perform such monitoring of their discharges as the commissioner may reasonably require, including installation, use, and maintenance of monitoring equipment, keeping records and reporting the results of such monitoring to the commissioner. Such records shall be made available upon request by the commissioner and to other agencies having jurisdiction over discharges to the receiving waters.


    § 28. Interference with Sewage Works

    No person shall maliciously, willfully or negligently, break, damage, destroy, uncover, deface, or tamper with any structure, appurtenance, or equipment which is a part of the sewage works or any other property under the jurisdiction of the commissioner. Any person violating this provision shall be subject to immediate arrest under charge of disorderly conduct.

    § 30. Inspection Powers

    The commissioner and his or her duly authorized agents bearing proper credentials and identification shall be permitted to enter all properties connected with the public sewers for the purposes of inspection, observation, measurement, sampling, and testing, all in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and to the extent permitted by and under the General Laws. They may inquire into any processes including metallurgical, chemical, oil refining, ceramic, paper, plating, or other industrial activity that contribute waters or wastes to the public sewers, but shall not order or demand information concerning any patented process or trade secret beyond that necessary to determine the kind, source, and amount of wastewater discharge from the industrial or commercial plant to the public sewers.

    § 31. Safety and Indemnification

    While performing the necessary work on private properties referred to in the foregoing section, the commissioner and his or her duly authorized agents shall observe all safety rules applicable to the premises established by the private property owners. Said private property owners shall be held harmless for injury or death to city personnel and the city shall indemnify the private property owner against loss or damage to its property by city personnel and against liability claims and demands for personal injury or property damage asserted against the private property owner and growing out of the gauging and sampling operation, except as such may be caused by negligence or failure of the private property owner to maintain safe conditions.

    § 32. Sewer Easements

    The commissioner and his or her duly authorized agents bearing proper credentials and identification shall be permitted to enter all private properties through which the city holds a duly acquired easement for sewer purposes, which shall include, but not be limited to, inspection, observation, measurement, sampling, repair, and maintenance of any portion of the sewage works lying within said easement. All entry and subsequent work, if any, on said easement, shall be done in full accordance with the terms of the duly acquired easement pertaining to the private property involved.

    § 33. Notice of Violations Required

    Any person found to be violating any provision of this chapter, except as expressly provided otherwise, shall be served by the commissioner with written notice that states the nature of the violation and that provides a reasonable time limit for the satisfactory correction thereof. The offender shall, within the period of time stated in such notice, permanently cease all violations.

    § 34. Fines & Restitution

    (a) Any person who shall continue any violation beyond the time limit provided for in the foregoing section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be fined in any amount not exceeding three-hundred dollars ($300.00) for each violation and shall be liable to the city for any expense, loss, or damage suffered by the city by reason of such offense.

    (b) Each day in which any such violation shall continue shall be deemed a separate offense.

    Additional Links

    City of Worchester Stormwater Webpage

    City of Worchester Ordinance PDF, 2022