Plan developed for river cleanup following Waterbury sewage spil - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Plan developed for river cleanup following Waterbury sewage spill

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Crews continued to treat the water after a sewage spill last month (WFSB file photo) Crews continued to treat the water after a sewage spill last month (WFSB file photo)

It was a massive spill along the Naugatuck River, one which dumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into the water.

The city of Waterbury took a lot of heat for not notifying people right away, and now they’re taking a number of steps to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

Weeks of rain helped wash bacteria from the Naugatuck River, which were the remnants of the more than five million gallons of raw sewage Waterbury’s Water Pollution Control dumped into the water last month.

Now there’s a consent order negotiated between the city and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that's causing Kevin Zak to be optimistic something good will come out of what he's described as an ecological disaster.

Zak heads up the Naugatuck River Revival Group, a local nonprofit with a mission to clean and protect the river.

While he says the city is now being pro-active, for him the biggest takeaway from the consent order is coming up with and implementing a much more effective emergency response plan.

“A more responsible waste water treatment plant as well as treatment protocol. The notifying and uniting of towns up and down the river,” Zak said.

The spill happened on Oct. 9 when a subcontractor working at the facility cut a live wire, knocking out power.

Making matters worse, the city's generators didn't kick in and with the system overloading, the decision was made to release the sewage into the river.

"I am concerned about the moral aspect of not informing people for whatever reason,” Zak said.

Under the consent order, the cleanup of the river, which included an outside contractor, needs to be finished by Wednesday.

It will also continue to test the water quality, and finish investigating the incident while making recommendations on what steps its taking to prevent it from happening again. 

This spring, Waterbury must also restock the river with 1,500 trout and sponsor a family fishing day.

It will also submit a new emergency response plan by the end of this year in which the city will place an emphasis on limiting environmental impacts like this and ensuring that the public is notified promptly if this happens again.

"It’s been happening for decades and decade and sometimes events cause people to rise to action and this is why I’m hopeful,” Zak said.

On Monday, Channel 3 stopped by city hall looking for a comment on the consent order, but was told the mayor was out of state, and his chief of staff did not respond.

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