By Diane Lauricella
To the Editor:
We all flush the toilet at one time or another. Even if you own a septic tank, as about 23 percent of Norwalk households do, you still may directly and indirectly use the sanitary sewer system if you go to a local store or restaurant.
The city’s state-issued wastewater discharge permit is up for renewal every five years, and was due in 2010. The permit includes discharges from three pipes, two near the sewage treatment plant and one across the street at the end of Ann Street. The permit sets conditions about enforcement, water quality, sludge disposal, odors and management, spill prevention and more.
For example, petitioners and others smelled odors throughout 2013 and previous years yet do not know where to call or are told by staff that it is “low tide, not sludge odors” coming from the sludge storage building. This problem has existed for many years and is considered a detriment to the quality of life throughout Norwalk, especially South and East Norwalk. This can have the effect of hindering development and real estate investment. Dependent upon which way the wind blows, folks and business owners have smelled these foul odors and felt there was nothing they could do, that they “had to live with it.” Well, that is not true! There are management controls that have not been consistently used and there is no need to continue this nuisance anymore!
In addition, valid concerns exist about how the treatment plant can handle a power outage and storm surge and communicate necessary information to citizens in advance of an emergency.
A Connecticut DEEP Hearing Officer will run a Water Quality Permit Hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, at the Department of Public Works Center first-floor cafeteria at 15 S. Smith St., near Fort Point Street. Citizens can speak at the meeting and/or submit comments until Dec. 6 to the Office of Adjudications by email at [email protected]; fax (860-424-4052); or snail mail: Office of Adjudications, DEEP HQ, 79 Elm Street, 3rd floor, Hartford. Be sure to note that the Application number is #20101482 in Norwalk.
Many citizens have valid concerns about how the plant is running and want their concerns made known to state and local officials so that concerns may be resolved through new conditions and changes. A petition requesting a public hearing was granted by the CT DEEP.
Citizens did not feel that the city was being transparent enough about this permit process and had valid concerns. Citizens have a right to a public, transparent meeting where their concerns will be recorded without the same fear of retribution experienced in prior years. We are interested in educating the public and businesses about the importance of their water pollution control plant and that foul odors that they have experienced may NOT always exist due to low tide. These odors can be reduced with better management controls.
More questions? Call Diane Lauricella at 203-858-1537 or email at [email protected]