Prescott Park contaminated effluent now part of Clean Water lawsuit
Prescott Park contaminated effluent now part of Clean Water lawsuit.
A downside to Portsmouth’s incredible historical architecture is the antiquated infrastructure below our streets; that is, our sewage system that transports “wastewater” from homes, industry, and storms.
Until recently, most have thought that all of our sewage goes to Peirce Island for treatment.
However, Peter Whelan, Jim Hewitt, Paige Trace and Esther Kennedy, four of the courageous and concerned Portsmouth residents who have become plaintiffs in a Clean Water Act lawsuit, have revealed to the public that untreated sewage is also discharged directly into public waterways through combined sewer overflows (CSOs), which are part of our antiquated wastewater infrastructure.
In February, Whelan and the others also discovered a continuous discharge from a pipe at Prescott Park, known as the Marcy Street CSO, and facilitated the professional testing of it.
Based upon the testing, they estimate that millions of gallons of highly contaminated effluent have flowed from it into the Piscataqua.
This further substantiates the plaintiffs’ claims that (1) Portsmouth will remain non-compliant with the federal Clean Water Act after the upgrade, and (2) NHDES and the EPA failed to enforce compliance.
But, the city and state claim that untreated sewage from these out-flows are somehow irrelevant to the size of the upgraded plant, even though their occurrence means that a good portion of the city’s sewage will not receive any treatment (Portsmouth Herald, April 13, 2017).
Note that the wastewater treatment upgrade at Peirce Island constitutes the largest capital outlay in the city’s history.
Prior to that, the city did not comply with a state-issued 2007 National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, which authorized the Marcy Street CSO and required the city to (a) warn the public every time a CSO discharge occurs and (b) to construct a sewage treatment plant that utilizes secondary treatment.