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News Releases from Region 09

EPA orders Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to Stop Sewage Spill, Notify Public

Contact Information: 
Margot Perez-Sullivan (

For Immediate Release:  December 22, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a Clean Water Act compliance order to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to address an ongoing sewage spill from pipes leading to the Shiprock Wastewater Treatment Facility.  The sewage spill is discharging around, under, and directly into the San Juan River.

On December 6, NTUA notified EPA of a pipe breach at the Shiprock Lift Station, part of the Shiprock Wastewater Treatment facility, that caused a continuous raw sewage spill.  The lift station usually handles about 200,000 gallons of sewage daily.  To date, NTUA has been unable to calculate the amount of sewage entering the river. The utility has been sampling the river above, at, and downstream from the spill since December 14 and is actively trying to replace the pipe.   

The EPA order requires NTUA to complete the pipe replacement by December 31, sample and monitor the river water for evidence of sewage contamination, prohibit public access, notify the public of the spill and keep the EPA informed of all activities pertaining to the spill.

EPA has been in communication with the Navajo Nation EPA and the utility regarding clean-up activities and possible human health impacts.

For more information on the EPA’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System program, please visit: /npdes