Fines and penalties for sewage wastewater dumps are not as rare as you might think. Between 2003 and 2008, about a third of the large public sewage treatment plants in the US were the subject of state or federal enforcement action and fines. Cities have also been known to levy fines; during the same period the city of San Diego levied $6.2 million in fines against the owners of wastewater treatment facilities. Some plants do slip through the cracks. Like everything else in the regulatory realm, enforcement is all about a matter of resources. Whenever a federal, state or city agency establishes rules and a scheme for punishing those who break them, there must be some activity by an enforcement arm of the agency in order to investigate reported violations and levy fines. Enforcement is expensive. With particularly state and local government agencies across the country facing almost universal budget shortfalls, governments will trim where they can (and often have to trim where it hurts). Consequently, violators go unpunished because the cost of investigating and fining them is simply too high.
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