Local government

Power outage releases half-million gallons from St. Albans wastewater plant

by Logan Solomon, Community News Service

ST. ALBANS CITY — A power outage Monday caused up to 500,000 gallons of partially treated liquids to flood out of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and into an outflow area near Stevens Brook, a waterbody that’s connected to Lake Champlain and flows downstream into St. Albans. 

A public notice of the incident listed Stevens Brook as a “waterbody impacted,” but St. Albans public works director Marty Manahan said the brook was unaffected, as wastewater flowed into a designated area independent of the brook. 

What was the impact on the brook? “Nothing,” Manahan said. “It wouldn’t get discharged in Stevens Brook. It gets discharged into our outflow,” Manahan said. 

That was a positive development, given that Stevens Brook is already in a bad state: The brook is listed as a high-priority impaired waterway, according to a 2022 state report

The St. Albans treatment plant has historically contributed to the brook’s impairment. The city’s sewer overflows, a result of rain overwhelming sewer infrastructure, are listed as one of the problems contributing to pollution in the waterway, the state says.

Since 2020, St. Albans has seen 13 instances where partially or completely untreated wastewater was discharged from the city plant, totaling between  275,000 and 2.5 million gallons, according to state data

Most of those instances were due to intense rains, and Manahan was thankful that was not the case Monday.

“Luckily it wasn’t during a high-flow period,” he said. “There would have been more gallons discharged if it was.”

The impact was also mitigated because a backup power generator meant the discharged liquids only missed one round of wastewater treatment. The generator powered several processes that removed solids, disinfected the liquids and provided dechlorination before the wastewater entered the outflow area. The one chemical process missing likely could have been performed too, Manahan said, if the entire facility was hooked up to the generator, which is not the case. He assumed that wasn’t done because it’s a costly prospect.

The power outage was caused by a split powerline and impacted the plant for two and a half hours. While the storm did not impact Stevens Brook, it did result in nearly 1,500 households in the northern part of St. Albans losing electricity for portions of the night, according to data from Green Mountain Power.

Categories: Local government

6 replies »

  1. You would think a organization that takes in tax dollars would be smart enough to put a generator onsite for power problems like that. I mean all kinds of businesses do. Heck even my small town phone company has generators setup to keep the phones on. OOPS I had a good idea, I guess I got to move… You people do not see that they do this to pollute the lake? All the cities that dump into it always say it’s an “accident” or some such mishap.. REALLY? REALLY? Just love drinking other people’s s****. Where are the fines from the EPA over this and other spills and a demand for better. Nothing…. crickets chirping …. thought so.

    • It’s *because* they are a publicly-funded organization that they don’t get the same market signals as private companies. Lose a few million bucks here and there? Discharge untreated human excrement a few times a year? Who cares, right? Vermont taxpayers will pick up the tab, as per usual.

  2. It’s so strange how unconcerned Democrats are lately about environmental disasters. It’s almost like they’ve found another – even bigger – moneymaker. Oh hi Pfizer.

  3. Hey, let’s start a new Democrat Party, and call it “Re-Imaging Democracy.” We need to come up with a new flag, too… with a solid red field and a brain in the middle instead of the hammer and sickle.

  4. Here comes the blue green algae. Will blame it on the farmers again. Oops we can’t do that we pushed them all out. Who can we blame this time. Oh it’s the cars. People will believe anything we tell them.

  5. Stay tuned! More to come! Wait until all the fools buy electric cars and strain the grid. Power outages will be the new normal. Generators? Are you kidding? You can’t have a fossil fuel power anything. If fuels are from fossils there should be an abundance as state and federal legislatures are full of fossils. Battery back up? No, they are toxic. Hahaha, look at the batteries they took out of the state building.

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