Sewage system overflowing into Connecticut River after days of heavy rain

Hampden County

(WWLP) – The heavy rain is straining the sewage system in western Massachusetts and because of that, the water quality of the Connecticut River is being compromised. 

Because of the excess rainwater, the sewage system is overflowing and that has resulted in it getting pushed into the river. But, it’s not a reason to panic as experts say it’s relatively normal. A 22News viewer captured video of a sewage pipe overflowing onto the shores of the Connecticut River at Jones Point in Holyoke.  

Technically, the city is not doing anything wrong, there is a warning posted. The overflow is caused because the sewage pipes are unable to handle all the rain we’ve seen. The system was originally designed for excess water in the pipes to overflow into the river. That way, it didn’t back up into peoples’ houses, but now standards are starting to change. 

“We don’t want to sewage in the river either,” said Angela Chaffee, communications director of the CT River Conservancy. “It’s really expensive and it takes a lot of time for these cities to upgrade their sewage and stormwater infrastructure to basically separate those two pipes.” 

It’s because of these standards that the Springfield water and sewer commission is building a whole new pipeline underneath the river – one that will be able to handle excess water. And until all municipalities are updated, a rule of thumb to determine if the Connecticut River is safe to be in. 

This waiting period will ensure bacteria has moved out of the water. The same goes for trash and car fluids that can be pushed into waterways by the rain. The Connecticut River Conservancy does test different spots of the river weekly. 

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