NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses last week unveiled a three-year plan officials worked out with the Environmental Protection Agency to bring the wastewater treatment plant into compliance in certain areas.
Public Works Director Jim Stewart told the board that officials from the EPA toured and inspected the treatment plant, which is run by Veolia North America, last September. EPA officials determined the plant is out of compliance in areas, including how much storm water infiltrates sewer pipes during rain storms.
During heavy rainfalls, Stewart said the water seeps into sewer pipes through cracks and holes, adding millions of extra gallons of water the treatment plant is not equipped to deal with.
“We had a few backups during those big storms. The treatment plant couldn’t handle the 26 million gallons a day when they were designed for 10 million. So, there was some overflows into the (Naugatuck) River,” Stewart said
In April, the EPA issued the borough a consent order stating what work needed to be done at the plant to bring it into compliance. This is on top of upgrades underway at the plant to meet federal mandates to reduce the amount of pollutants emitted.
“Originally they had wanted us to do all the work this year when we had no time to actually budget for it. So, what we have done is try to lay out the dates proceeding out over the next three fiscal years, this one and the next two, so that we can try to get as much done with our existing budget,” Stewart said.
During this fiscal year, the borough will create a bypass summary report, which is a way to notify the EPA if the treatment plant has to bypass treatment due to overflow concerns, and an emergency response plan for bypasses and overflows, Stewart said.
The bypass summary report, which is due in January, isn’t expected not to cost the borough any money. The emergency plan is expected to cost very little, if anything, and is due in March, Stewart said.
“We will be working with Veolia. They have most of those procedures written out. We just have to put it in a format to turn in,” Stewart said.
During the 2018-19 fiscal year, the borough will have to complete a plan to deal with the excess rain water and runoff that comes into the treatment plant during storms.
“We did our infiltration and inflow plan to determine where it is coming from. But now they want to know what are you going to do to stop it from coming in. That way we can limit the overflows in the system. That is ultimately what the whole plan is, how do you stop overflows and discharges into the streams,” Stewart said.
Stewart said the plant’s operating budget is expected to cover the cost of the plan.
The borough will also do a self-evaluation of the plant’s operation, in which it will say what it can do better, and an action plan, where it begins to put the recommendations from the self-evaluation into place.
“Hopefully, we can be inventive so we can address these issues without spending a whole lot of extra money,” Stewart said.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the borough will have to complete the program manual that covers all of the operations, from maintaining the system to limiting bypasses, at the plant, Stewart said. He didn’t have an estimated price for the manual but said the cost will be “significant.”
Stewart said the EPA didn’t single out Naugatuck’s treatment plant.
“They covered 16 treatment plants in the state. They hit every treatment plant that was our size and larger. So they aren’t picking on us. A lot of people have gotten worse orders than us as far as dates,” Stewart said. “I’m happy with it.”
The board agreed to wait for feedback from the borough’s Water Pollution Control Authority before moving forward with the three-year plan. The board is expected to vote on the plan at its next meeting.