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River warning issued after discharge from Northampton wastewater plant

  • The Connecticut River as seen from the Hadley dike, Monday, April 9, 2018.



Staff Writer
Sunday, August 05, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — A power failure Friday evening into Saturday morning caused the Northampton wastewater treatment plant on Hockanum Road to release discharge into the Connecticut River.

Though Department of Public Works Director Donna LaScaleia said in an email Sunday that it remains unknown how much of what is called “primary treated effluent” was released, the Northampton Health Department advises that the public should wait 48 hours before swimming in the Connecticut River downstream of the plant.

That 48-hour period expires at 6 a.m. Monday, LaScaleria said.

Severe weather is being blamed on the electrical failures to several of the treatment plant’s emergency, alarm and pumping systems, which caused the release of the effluent, LaScaleia said.

Primary treatment is the second step in wastewater management and it allows for the physical separation of solids and greases from the wastewater, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. LaScaleia said this is not raw sewage.

City officials have not yet estimated the volume of the effluent release, LaScaleia said.

“We are calculating how many gallons were discharged as part of our required reporting” to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, she said.

In a statement Saturday, LaScaleia said there was no further discharge of the effluent, and that secondary disinfection treatment had been re-established.

The power cut caused the discharge to be released into the Old Mill River bed, which in turn discharges to the Connecticut River, according to LaScaleia.

“We are working as quickly as possible to completely restore all treatment processes and are working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to ensure appropriate communication, remedial action and regulatory compliance,” LaScaleia said in the statement.

Staff writer Scott Merzbach contributed to this story.