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Power Outage Led To Sewage Discharge

The power outage forced one sewer treatment plant in Ledyard to discharge untreated wastewater into the Seth Williams Brook.

 

Approximately 60,000 gallons of untreated domestic water was discharged into the Seth Williams Brook Monday, said Stephan Banks, the wastewater supervisor of the treatment facility on Town Farm Road.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” he said. “This was to prevent people’s homes from being overrun with raw sewage.”

The incident occurred after the power went out and the facility’s back up generator failed for about three hours Monday night during the storm. The town alerted residents that they should minimize water use.

Banks said when the generator malfunctioned, it did not pump water into the treatment facility and there was a concern that the wastewater would build up and overtake the collection system.

The facility treats wastewater for approximately 500 households in the Highlands, which includes Fox Run Apartments and Lakeside condominiums.

“Everything’s been taken care of from a regulatory standpoint,” said Banks. “It’s not a major impact on the environment by any means.”

The situation may not be bad for residents in Ledyard because most of the wastewater will flow into the Mystic River and make its way into the Long Island Sound. But, millions of gallons of untreated sewage has been discharged into local waterways, according to the Boston Globe and the DEEP has no plans for a cleanup.

Stonington faced a similar problem Wednesday but narrowly avoided discharging untreated water into the river when power was restored to the plant just in time.

The Boston Globe’s report says that, “Discharges of untreated or partially treated sewage into waterways were reported in Branford, Bridgeport, East Lyme, Fairfield, Greenwich, Ledyard, New Hartford and New Haven, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection."

DEEP Spokesman Dennis Schain said, “Sewage breaks down in the waters and does get washed into greater waters and greater volumes of waters, so it is diluted,” and that “There’s not much to do.’’

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy quipped Tuesday that for ‘‘the immediate time being, no one should eat the clams or oysters from the area.”

In April, the General Assembly passed a bill requiring the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to notify the public when unexpected sewage spills occur. A quick look on their site does not reveal any notifications.

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