Plan developed for river cleanup following Waterbury sewage spill

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

It’s been more than two weeks since a power failure at Waterbury’s Water Pollution Control Plant sent more than five million gallons of untreated sewage into the Naugatuck River.

While the city continues to investigate, there are still plenty of questions.

On Wednesday, the water was high and moving quickly after Tuesday night’s rain, and that means anything that was still in the river has moved downstream.

Workers with Waterbury’s Water Pollution Control Plant spent the morning collecting samples from the Naugatuck River, testing the water quality.

"Health-wise, yeah it’s a concern because it is raw sewage because there are guys that duck hunt down here, guys that fish down here,” said Dave Guandalini, of Naugatuck, who lives downstream. "I live in the neighborhood, we all smell it from time to time depending on which way the wind goes."

Earlier this month, sewage was actually in the water, killing off a number of fish.

According to Waterbury’s Water Pollution Control Plant, an electrical contractor working at the plant hit a line, causing the plant to lose power.

"That contractor was working in the manhole and they accidentally cut a live wire,” said Denis Cuevas, general manager of the Water Pollution Control Plant.

Making matters worse, the facility's generators didn't kick in.

Cuevas said when the tank started to fill up, and with no way of switching tanks without power, the waste water was released into the river.

“We've been cleaning the river since this occurred. We've been getting guidance from deep as to other steps to take,” Cuevas said.

In addition to cleaning, the city even posted signs warning people to stay out of the river, but some say it was too late.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Municipal Facilities group, which handles sewage treatment plants, is reviewing the incident.

"We're also going to be looking at the emergency response plan to see if we need to improve communications when something like this happens,” Cuevas said.

Both the Waterbury Police Department along with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection continue to investigate.

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