Easthampton cautions people to avoid the water at Brickyard Brook after sewer spill

  • Easthampton Municipal Building GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/5/2022 6:32:48 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The city’s Health Department is cautioning the public from making contact with the water at Brickyard Brook Conservation Area after several hundred gallons of sewage spilled into the stormwater drain that discharges into the brook Monday morning.

A broken 8-inch sewer pipe was discovered at the end of Cherry Street at 7:30 a.m. when the ground was opened to replace a drainage pipe, according to the Department of Public Works. The city department indicated that at that point sewage was leaking into the stormwater drain that discharges into Brickyard Brook, approximately 70 feet downstream.

As a result of reconstruction already taking place, a cofferdam — a watertight enclosure from which water is pumped dry to allow construction work to take place below a waterline — was already in place, and the area at the outfall was being dewatered and filtered before entering the stream.

Between 250 to 350 gallons of sewage is estimated to have exited the outfall with a small amount leaving the cofferdam area without being filtered, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

To limit any additional flow entering the brook while repairs were made, the sewer pipe was blocked with sandbags in an upstream sewer manhole on Chestnut Street.

The broken section of pipe has since been repaired and replaced with a new section of PVC pipe and two Fernco couplings, and the sandbags in the upstream manhole have been removed.

Because the discharge from the outfall likely consisted of partially treated sewage, the Health Department advised the public not to make any contact with the water at Brickyard Brook for at least 48 hours during rainstorms and 48 hours after rainstorms due to increased health risks from bacteria or other pollutants, Health Director Bri Dupras said.

The Health Department was required to send out a Code Red call and post signage, according to guidelines set forth by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Signs will likely be removed on Monday, which will be at least 48 hours from the original discharge and from any heavy rain, said Dupras.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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