Quincy Mayor Won’t Sign Consent Decree With EPA

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch said he would not enter into a consent decree to undertake millions of dollars in repairs to Quincy’s sewer and drain systems after the filing of a federal lawsuit alleging the city is in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The city, Koch said, has spent millions already to address those concerns and he was wary of tying up future funds for a decade or more.

Koch spoke during a City Hall press conference the afternoon of March 15, hours after Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, announced the filing of the lawsuit. Lelling and the Environmental Protection Agency allege the city of Quincy has been allowing sewage and untreated wastewater to discharge into Boston Harbor and adjoining waterways for the past decade.

The mayor said Quincy officials had been meeting with federal regulators to discuss the sewer and drainage concerns and had a tolling agreement to avoid litigation in place for at least 12 months. Quincy officials sought to renew the tolling agreement, but Lelling let it expire March 15, the day the lawsuit was announced, the mayor said.

Koch said the city had spent millions of dollars in the past decade to improve its sewer and drain systems. Because of that, he said he would not enter into a consent decree with the federal government to commit more funds to those issues.

“I don’t believe the EPA has recognized the good work we’ve done. It’s not like we haven’t been doing anything on these issues,” the mayor said. “I am not going to sign something that assigns a penalty to this city because I do not believe we intentionally did anything improper. In fact, quite frankly, the Department of Public Works over the years has gotten awards for the great work that we do in the environment.

“Further…once you sign a consent decree, you put on paper how much the city is going to spend over the next 10 to 15 years without even knowing what our five-year outlook is going to be for revenue going in. I don’t want to be in that position of laying teachers off or firemen off because we have to meet a certain quota assigned by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

The EPA, he said, wanted the city to spend “tens and tens of millions of dollars over the next decade,” to address the issue.

Koch said he was outraged by the lawsuit because of the effort already made by the city.

“Quite frankly I’m outraged by the action. We’ve been at the table for months with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and folks with the EPA working on issues that affect the waterways around the city. The city has spent tens of millions of dollars over the last decade working to solve some of the challenges we face environmentally,” Koch said.

“This city has not ignored this issue. Quite frankly, we’ve been proactive on this issue right along.”

The mayor assured residents the city’s beaches are safe to swim in.

“The folks that have lived here a long time have seen, incrementally, the improvement happening. When we were at Wollaston Beach as kids, you couldn’t see your ankles looking through the water. Today, the clarity is incredible,” Koch said. “The beaches are safe.”

Residents, he added, should continue to avoid the beaches the day after rainstorms.

“There was a rule that we always as kids shared and everyone talked about: The day after heavy rain, you stay out of the water. It was just common sense. Storm drains go out into the water and things get into that storm drain system. I would continue to advise people to do that, but the beaches are cleaner than they ever were,” Koch said.

“The reality is there has been great improvement and we’re continuing down that road, but I believe the lawsuit, and what the EPA wants, is far too aggressive for the city of Quincy and the residents to afford.”

The mayor said he was looking into the possibility of countersuing the EPA. That decision, he said, could be made within the week.

Koch was joined at his press conference by U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch and members of the city’s legal team. City Solicitor Jim Timmins said one issue his office and federal attorneys could not come to an agreement on was monetary penalties to the city, which the Clean Water Act allows. Timmins said the city wanted to put the money towards environmental projects in lieu of paying fines.

“Instead of just paying the money in terms of a fine, we’d spend the money on related projects,” Timmins said. “We felt all along that fining a municipality, particularly in light of the work the mayor has just outlined, was inappropriate. That was a tension point throughout the discussion.”

Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, said the concerns raised in the federal lawsuit are not unique to Quincy; sewer and drain systems nationwide can get overwhelmed during storm events, leading to discharges of untreated wastewater. Lynch said the federal government should work with communities to make necessary improvements.

“The systems that were meant to address the weather patterns of 20 or 30 years ago are being overwhelmed here, but that is not because of the negligence of municipal and state officials. That is because of climate change, so we have to recognize there is a federal role here to help municipalities and help the states build resilience into their systems and upgrade their systems so we can face these new superstorms that are impacting these communities,” Lynch said.

“I’d like to have a partnership. I don’t want the EPA suing the city of Quincy.”

The civil complaint filed by Lelling alleges water quality samples from 2009 through 2018 show Quincy discharged pollutants, including the bacteria commonly known as E. coli and Enterococcus, onto Quincy beaches and tidal areas along the coastline. It also alleges that the water quality 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. In addition, the complaint alleges Quincy’s sanitary sewer system overflowed on numerous occasions, resulting in discharges of sewage and untreated wastewater.

“The Clean Water Act is designed to protect the waters of the United States for the health and enjoyment of its citizens,” Lelling said in a statement. “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.”

“This complaint represents a critical step in the ongoing cleanup of Boston Harbor and nearby urban rivers,” said Deb Szaro, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s New England region. “EPA is committed to ensuring the restoration of Boston Harbor and addressing sewage discharges in local communities continues in order to protect public health and clean water.”

The Clean Water Act provides for monetary daily penalties of $37,500 for each violation that occurred on or before Nov. 2, 2015, and $54,833 for each violation occurring after Nov. 2, 2015, Lelling said. The complaint seeks the recovery of penalties and requests that the court permanently enjoin Quincy from future violations of the Clean Water Act.

Raw sewage overflows and inadequately controlled stormwater discharges from municipal sewer systems introduce a variety of harmful pollutants, including disease causing organisms, metals and nutrients that threaten our communities’ water quality and can contribute to disease outbreaks, beach and shellfish bed closings, flooding, stream scouring, fishing advisories and basement backups of sewage.

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Robert F. Bent

Robert F. Bent of Rockland, formerly of Quincy, died March 18, 2019.

Robert Bent

Robert Bent

Bob proudly served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He enjoyed woodworking and loved to travel by land, sea and air. He was happiest when involved in the lives of each generation of his family and loved to be at any and all family gatherings.

Beloved husband of 62 years to Catherine T. (Doherty) Bent of Rockland. Devoted father of Robert Bent and his wife Kate of Kensington, NH, William Bent and his wife Patti of Littleton, Patricia Norton and her husband John of Sandown, NH, Catherine Kilgallen and her husband Brian of Rockland, Daniel Bent and his wife Astrid of Marshfield, Maureen Thayer and her husband Bob of Pembroke, Joanne Ricciarelli and her husband Jim of Rockland, and James Bent and his wife Nancy of Rockland. Cherished Gramp of 18 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. Son of the late Harold and Mary Bent. Predeceased by 9 brothers and sisters: Warren (Bill), Russell, Eleanor James, Beverly Daly, Elizabeth Pontifex, Mary, Ralph, Dorothy Griffin and John. Also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the visiting hours on Thursday 4-8 PM in the McDonald Keohane Funeral Home SOUTH WEYMOUTH at 809 Main Street (Rte 18 opp. So. Shore Hospital).

Relatives and friends will gather in the funeral home at 8 AM on Friday prior to the Funeral Mass in Saint Bridget Parish, Abington at 9 AM.

Burial in MA National Cemetery, Bourne.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Bob may be made to Wounded Warrior Project PO, Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8517.

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Tina Dittrich, 59

Tina (Bettina) Dittrich, age 59, of Quincy and The Villages, Fla., wife of Colette Charpentier, passed away unexpectedly at her home in Quincy on March 14, 2019.

Tina Dittrich

Tina Dittrich

Tina grew up in Merrimack, N.H., the youngest of six children born to Helen (Ludwig) and George Dittrich and was a graduate of Merrimack High School, Class of 1977. Tina served for many years in the New Hampshire Army National Guard prior to taking on her second career as the mailroom and copy manager for Ikon Office Solutions. After retiring from Ikon, Tina served as the executive director of the Centre Franco-Americain as well as the executive secretary of the Frederick Smyth Institute of Music both in Manchester, N.H.

Following her second retirement, Tina’s passion for sunshine and golf led her and Colette to Florida, first residing in the Cape Coral area, then most recently in The Villages. In her life, to say Tina loved golf would be an understatement. Tina was awesome at golf and won many championships, but she also enjoyed frequent Sunday outings with Colette and Kit, whom she routinely bested while always remaining humble in her victories. Tina excelled at all sports she played and loved the competition. Like her mother, she was an avid Red Sox fan. She and Colette often attended Spring Training games at JetBlue Stadium in Florida and home games at Fenway Park.

Tina will best be remembered for her love of life and adventure, which led her and Colette on many outings to places far and wide.  Their most recent excursion to Alaska resulted in a face to face meeting with parts of Alaska no one tells you about in the brochures. Tina was always the practical one and the calming influence in the active life they shared.

Life wasn’t always easy for Tina, having fought breast cancer twice. She was, however, extremely proud of being a two-time breast cancer survivor.  We will miss Tina terribly, but will always remember the good times together and cherish the memories we have of our lives with her.

Tina is survived by her wife and life partner of 29 years Colette Charpentier; her siblings and spouses: Charles and Donna Dittrich of Utica, NY, Christopher and Madeline Dittrich of The Villages, FL, Gary and Kathy Dittrich of Fairfield, CT, Kim Dittrich of Mason, TX, Melanie and Jeff Sinise of Bloomsbury ,NJ;  her father and mother-in-law Richard and Pauline Charpentier of Cocoa Beach, FL; her in-laws and spouses: Dee and Mark Griffiths of Dewitt, MI, Nicole and John Breckinridge of Goffstown, NH, Danielle and Bob Langdon of Gilbert, AZ, Richard Charpentier and Jessica Peterson of Sanford, ME, Charles Charpentier and Lindsay Suttenberg of Washington, DC;  nieces and nephews: Curt and his wife Donna, Debbie, Daren, Amy, Mike, Heather, Jason, Kiersten, Emily, Darrin, Megan, Brian, Kallie, Mei Mei, Nicole, Brian, Matthew, Jenna, Katie, Allison, Andrea, Tyler, Emily, Rachel, Sam, Rebecca and Sebastien. Tina was preceded in death by her parents, Helen and George, and nephews Khyle and Evan.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a celebration of her life on Saturday March 23rd, 2019 from 2 to 5 pm at The Boston Marriott Quincy, 1000 Marriott Drive, Quincy MA 02169.  Casual attire.

Memorial donations may be made to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at dana-farber.org/gift.

Funeral arrangements were made by Rivet Funeral Home & Crematorium, Merrimack, N.H.

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Laurence F. Mirick, Jr., 75

Laurence F. Mirick, Jr., age 75, of Quincy, passed away on March 16, 2019 at Beth Israel Deaconess in Plymouth.

Laurence F. Mirick, Jr.

Laurence F. Mirick, Jr.

He is survived by his son Jeremiah Mirick of Braintree, his wife Beverly Mignosa of Sandwich, and his brother Kenneth A. Mirick and his wife Deborah of Yorktown, VA. He was a beloved uncle of David, Jennifer, Valerie, Jacquelyn, Andrea, Seth, Sean and Holly. He was also a cherished grandfather of Sophia and Joshua.

Laurence was born in Sherman, Texas, to the late Virginia L. (Fowler) Mirick and Laurence F. Mirick, Sr. on July 23, 1943. He grew up in and went to school at North Quincy. Laurence served in the US Army and was a veteran of the Vietnam War for two terms before being honorably discharged in 1970.

He worked as a central office technician for Verizon where he earned his degree in communications through Massasoit Community College. He worked there for over 40 years.

Laurence was also a mighty man of God involved in ministry with South Shore Assembly of God in Rockland and New Life Foursquare Church now known as Living Hope Foursquare Church of Hanover. He loved serving with others at his church and spending time with his grandchildren. He has had a major impact in many people’s lives and will be greatly missed.

Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to celebrate his life on Thursday, March 21 from 4PM to 7PM at the Sullivan Funeral Home, 551 Washington St, Hanover, MA 02339 and his funeral 11:00AM on Friday, March 22 at Sullivan Funeral home with Pastor Jason Doescher of Living Hope Foursquare Church, officiating.   Burial will follow at Massachusetts National Cemetery, Bourne.

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Robert C. DelGreco, 71

Robert C. DelGreco, age 71, a lifelong Quincy resident, passed away, peacefully, Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at the Pat Roche Hospice Home, in the comfort of his loving family.

Robert C. DelGreco

Robert C. DelGreco

Robert was born in Quincy to the late Carmine A. and Mary A. (Palumbo) DelGreco. He was raised in Quincy and was a graduate of Quincy High School.

Bob was proud to have served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. He received the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with 4 bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device.

He was employed as a manager by the United States Postal Service for thirty-five years, working at the South Boston Postal Annex. He had been retired for several years.

Bob was a former active member of the George F. Bryan VFW Post in Quincy. Most of all, he was devoted to his family.

Beloved husband of Lois C. (Keith) Harkins-DelGreco. Devoted father of Julie DelGreco of Florida and Tina O’Connell and her husband Brendan of Wareham. Loving brother of Paul A. DelGreco and his wife Linda of Hingham, Michael R. DelGreco and his wife Cheryl of Plymouth, James K. DelGreco of Weymouth, Kathleen Belt and her husband Barry of Quincy, Marianne Ward and her husband Richard of Durham, NC, and Carol Ann Barden and her husband Stewart of Dunedin, Fla. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Funeral Services will be conducted at the Sweeney Brothers Home for Funerals, 1 Independence Avenue, Quincy on Monday, March 25th at 10:30 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Visiting hours at the funeral home Sunday 2 – 5 p.m. Interment, with military honors, at the Massachusetts National Cemetery, Bourne.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Robert’s memory may be made to the Pat Roche Hospice Home, c/o Norwell VNA and Hospice, 120 Longwater Drive, Norwell, MA 02061 or by visiting nvna.org.

You are invited to visit thesweeneybrothers.com or call 617-472-6344.

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