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Norwalk questions Westport's sewer connection request

By Brian Lockhart
Norwalk Advocate

April 13, 2004

NORWALK -- Public Works officials said they don't understand why Westport needs to connect Saugatuck Shores' sanitary sewers to Norwalk's wastewater treatment plant.

They questioned the move as Westport is increasing the capacity of its own sewage treatment facility.

Norwalk Public Works Director Harold Alvord last night briefed the city's Water Pollution Control Authority on his correspondence with Westport officials over their proposal to connect upward of 320 households to Norwalk's plant on South Smith Street.

Residents of the Saugatuck Shores peninsula, who have wanted for years to trade their septic systems for sewers, have said it would be easier, less costly and environmentally sound to connect to the nearby Norwalk facility.

Norwalk officials are concerned about the effect of the additional 400,000 gallons of out-of-town wastewater. The Norwalk plant was designed in the 1990s to handle 20 million gallons of wastewater per day, with the need to expand by 2020.

Alvord told the WPCA that Westport's sewage treatment facility, located off Compo Road just south of the Interstate 95 bridge on the east side of the Saugatuck River, has a capacity of 2.8 million gallons a day.

He said Westport plans an upgrade to accommodate 3.3 million gallons a day, and he was told there is not enough land around the plant to expand any further.

Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, in an interview last night, said the town's facility can be upgraded only to a certain capacity because of its location.

"It's a land-use issue more than anything else, so we will never be able to provide 100 percent capacity for every resident in Westport. We can take the Saugatuck Shores effluent. It just means we will not be able to hook up another part of town to sewers."

Westport's plant is bordered by 5 to 7 acres of "totally unused, unguarded, unfenced" state property that appears to provide access to Metro-North Railroad tracks, Alvord said.

He told the Norwalk WPCA he wants to know why Westport would rather hook up Saugatuck Shores to Norwalk than consider building a larger plant using some of the state property.

Farrell said she understood Norwalk's concerns. She said the state land is used to access the train tracks, but she did not address Alvord's question about using it for a larger upgrade.

Alvord is awaiting formal responses to his questions from Stephen Edwards, Westport's director of public works. Edwards could not be immediately reached yesterday for comment.

Alvord and the WPCA wondered last night whether Westport officials could consider using another part their town to build a new wastewater treatment plant.

Farrell said: "It would not be part of our alternative consideration to look for another location entirely. . . . Westport is almost fully developed. There's really no other place."

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