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Fighting the raw sewage pollution of Wethersfield Cove, Connecticut

Eyewitness News -

14th April 2004

Wethersfield -- People who live in the Cove neighbourhood have settled a lawsuit against Metropolitan District Commission for a spill that happened in 1997 but they say sewage continues to pollute the area.

It was a disgusting accident, 20 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into Wethersfield Cove. A settlement for more than $750,000 was awarded to households in the neighbourhood. People say they are pleased with the outcome of the suit but sewage continues to flow into the Cove when there is an overflow and they will not be happy until the pollution stops.

"My point wasn't to get rich off it or anything it just got to get them to do something to stop polluting the cove,” said Charles Hart, neighbour.

The accident that led to the lawsuit was a mechanical failure that allowed millions of gallons of raw sewage to flow into the Cove and MDC says it has taken steps to assure that it will not happen again.

One of the things MDC did was install an alarm network that instantly tells them if and where there are overflow points anywhere in the system.

"At one point we had about over 150 overflow points,” said Matt Nozolio,"... some of those are overflows from pipe to pipe..some go directly to a body of water...we've cut that number to about half."

The commission has also spent $80 million on improvements to the sewage system itself but when there are heavy rains, the water has to go somewhere. Wethersfield Cove is still one of those overflow areas.

"We're undertaking a study right now as part of the settlement to see if there is a way to permanently take the Cove out of the loop,” said Nozolio,"... prevent it from receiving any combined sewer."

The problem with redesigning a sewage system for older cities like Hartford and Wethersfield is money. The project would require hundreds of millions of dollars.