A state agency said an estimated 304,000 gallons of raw sewage flowed from a Derby wastewater pump station into the Housatonic River during the first six months of 2012.
The pump station, which sits on Roosevelt Drive just above the river across from Cemetery Avenue, had failed four times as of June, according to a notice of violation issued in August to Derby from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The DEEP notice states that Derby must fix the pump station or face fines of $25,000 per day. However, the state agency is giving Derby time to address the issues and there’s no drop dead date regarding the fines as long as the city attempts to make progress.
Replacing the pump station could cost as much as $10 million, according to information from the Derby Water Pollution Control Authority.
The Roosevelt Drive pump station is among a long list of repairs needed for Derby’s treatment facilities, sewer system and pump stations. The WPCA reviewed a list in mid-September that totaled $34.1 million.
Members of the WPCA are currently working on prioritizing a list of repairs and upgrades needed to the system. The list reviewed in mid-September is posted at the bottom of this article.
Derby may schedule a referendum at some point to ask voters for permission to borrow money to get some of the jobs done.
Roosevelt Drive Pump Station
Of all the issues with the sewers, the Roosevelt Drive pump station is the “number one problem,” WPCA Superintendent Lindsay King told Derby Aldermen during a meeting Thursday.
The station pumps 40 percent of Derby’s wastewater — but is old and increasingly unreliable, according to the notice of violation issued by DEEP.
“Records indicate that this is a 1960s era pump and has been functioning unreliably,” DEEP’s notice reads. “Significant improvements (possibly a complete pump station upgrade) must be made to this pump station to insure reliable operation.”
The DEEP notice is below. Article continues after the document.
The Roosevelt Drive wastewater pump station was upgraded in the 1970s — but no major upgrades have been done since, King said.
The station overflows during “rain events” because it simply doesn’t have the capacity needed to handle the amount of water and waste flowing into it.
King said the only way Derby can comply with the DEEP notice of violation is to build a new pump station.
“Right now we have old equipment there and we have capacity issues. We basically need a bigger pump station,” he said.
In addition, King said the city will likely have to find another location for the pump station because it is so close to the Housatonic River.
“From what I understand we can’t get permitting to put it there,” King said.
“So you have challenges,” Mayor Anthony Staffieri said.
“There are a lot of challenges,” King said. “Right now our backs are up against the wall with this one because we have the notice of violation. We have a plan of action with the DEEP and they’re agreeing with it, as long as we proceed with it.”
A document given to the Aldermen by the WPCA Thursday shows the Roosevelt Drive pump station lost power during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, causing sewage to flow into the Housatonic.
The pump station also failed in 2012 on Jan. 6, Feb. 23, Feb. 27 and July 30.
In general, the Derby sewer system is like Rocky after the first fight with Apollo Creed — tired, battered, spurting liquid and looking for someone to hug.
Except fixing this big lug could cost millions.
King appeared Thursday with WPCA members John Saccu, Richard Bartholomew and Anthony DeSimone, an engineer with Weston and Sampson.
Simone told the Aldermen a “wastewater facilities planning study” is just about done. The $518,000 study — the state kicked in $285,000 — is a planning document for infrastructure improvements.
Derby City Hall should have a draft copy of the report within two weeks, DeSimone said. A meeting will be scheduled between the WPCA, the Aldermen and the city’s tax board to discuss the document.
The WPCA also plans to conduct a $582,000 “sanitary sewer system evaluation study,” of which the state picks up $320,000.
That study will attempt to figure out why so much rain water ends up at the Derby water pollution control facility next to the Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers. The rain water should go into storm water sewer lines.
DeSimone said roof leaders and sump pumps in Derby could be connected to sewer lines instead of storm water systems.
“Based on response times we get at the plant when it rains, the downtown area is a very suspect area of having many roof leaders connected,” he said.
DeSimone and WPCA staff will be venturing into Derby buildings to try to figure out the sources. Part of the process includes dropping smoke bombs into the sanitary sewer system to see where the smoke comes out.
Saccu, an appointed volunteer, said his group plans to appear at Aldermen meetings regularly to keep the public informed of what’s happening.
“For the last year and half we’ve been a study mode, studying our plant and our collection system,” Saccu said. “That study has been done in phases. And the reason for that study has been to determine what needs to be replaced and upgraded. We now have started to gather that data and information.”