You think the government of Iceland is melting? Yikes, check out the impact that layoffs have had in the office of City Clerk Fleeta Hudson who penned this letter recently to Mayor Bill Finch:
I would be remiss in my duties as City Clerk if I did not make you aware that the most recent round of layoffs has left the City Clerk’s office critically understaffed.
This office can no longer operate within federal, state and local laws. Please prepare your pertinent department heads and staff for issues with FOIA compliance, court document delays, and missed deadlines for state applications, along with delays in the processing of city council proceedings.
Please understand that this is in no way a threat in retaliation to the layoffs, nor is it imagined or fabricated in anyway. These are simply facts, of which you should be apprised.
As an elected official and taxpayer in this city, you may rest assured that I want to support any proper remedies to alleviate the city’s fiscal woes.
Basically, Fleeta’s saying it’s going to be extraordinarily tough fulfilling requests with anything having to do with the city’s legislative body. Want to know the attendance records of City Council members? Don’t hold your breath.
Speaking of council members kudos to the North End constituent work of AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia who has an impressive email blast that alerts constituents to everything from public meetings, answers to common questions regarding city departments to snow alerts.
OIB friend Duby McDowell and fellow journalists have launched a webzine dedicated to news about Connecticut media which we know is in a fragile state of affairs under the pressure of cutbacks but presses on to keep public officials honest. Check out thelaurel.wordpress.com, a new link under “Discussion”.
Our friends at My Left Nutmeg have reported that former House Speaker Jammin’ Jimmy Amann has postponed his gubernatorial announcement that was scheduled for Thursday night at The Klein. Something to do about campaign finance clarification. They want to be cautious.
This is not a happy day for Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez. Fast Eddie will be charged with state bribery today. Yes, it’s that damn house again. Joe’s house. John’s house. Eddie’s house. ‘Housa ’bout a little grease for my house?’
Follow-up to prior post. News release from Connecticut Fund for the Environment.
Connecticut Fund for the Environment Urges Action on Bridgeport Plants
Extensive Sewage Treatment Plant Violations Cause Massive Pollution to Long Island Sound
New Haven- Connecticut Fund for the Environment, a New Haven based environmental group, and national organization Earthjustice, are calling upon the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take immediate corrective action on the two Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) plants that are annually dumping 350 million gallons of untreated sewage into Long Island Sound. The organizations are filing a 60 day notice under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act and want to stop the plants from continuing to create a widespread public health hazard, contaminating shellfish beds, and pushing sewage into basements and onto city streets.
Roger Reynolds, senior staff attorney for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, commented, “There are millions of dollars in federal and state resources available to assist Bridgeport and put a stop to the unchecked raw sewage flowing into the Sound. Properly managing these facilities will also create over 700 jobs and make Bridgeport a healthier and cleaner place to live and work. If steps aren’t taken to address this issue, we will act to ensure the protection of Long Island Sound and the regional economy.”
Since 2004, due to the combined sewer/stormwater system, the WPCA plants–operated by KGI Bridgeport, a subsidiary of Aquarion–have allowed more than 1.6 billion gallons of a raw sewage/stormwater mixture to flow into Long Island Sound in order to avoid tank overflow within the facilities. The majority of overflow occurrences are due to the increased plant volume during rain; however, ten events were due to mechanical failure and were not weather-related.
Reynolds continued, “Mayor Finch understands the importance of this issue and we hope to work with him to address the problems that have been plaguing the WPCA for decades. We have now reached the point that practically any rain causes a free-flowing sewage pipeline directly into the waterway. We can’t just hope for drought conditions in order to protect the Sound.”
Reynolds is referring to a concerning uptick in overflow events. Overall Bridgeport’s west side plant had 47 overflow events in 2008, an increase from nine overflow events in 1999.
“We need to stop talking about this problem and start fixing it.” said Abigail Dillen, a staff attorney with Earthjustice. “There is no way we can clean up the Sound so long as Bridgeport is dumping more and more raw sewage into it every year.”
Cities are mandated by the Federal Clean Water Act to address stormwater overflow problems, most often by separating the sewer systems from stormwater drains or reducing the amount of stormwater that enters the system. Only a few cities remain in Connecticut that still have combined sewer overflows (CSOs) mixing rainwater and sewage. These municipalities- Hartford, New Haven, and Norwich- are making progress toward addressing their sewage overflow problems while Bridgeport continues to lag.
For 30 years, there have been multiple rounds of requirements and promises to study the Bridgeport sewage issue, but no meaningful enforcement by DEP. While Bridgeport was ordered to submit a complete study in 2000, DEP recently issued a new order requiring another study, deeming the 2000 study inadequate. In the interim, the number and frequency of overflow events has dramatically increased, and the threat to Long Island Sound continues.
Bridgeport has committed nearly 1,000 violations of the City’s permits including discharging illegal levels of toxics, solids, fecal coliform, and chlorine. They have also failed to comply with the legal requirement to hire employees with the proper skills and training, and they have not provided documentation verifying employee certification. Additionally, several mandatory reports submitted by the WPCA have the same sampling results- a statistically impossible occurrence- leading to questions as to the veracity of the information or staff expertise in reporting.
“The state must require Bridgeport to operate its plant in a way to meet the minimal requirements. The current operator has demonstrated its inability to do so and should be replaced immediately,” said Reynolds. “The state should also require Bridgeport to adhere strictly to the schedule and address the sewage overflow issue, and if they fail to do so, DEP should bring an enforcement action.”