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New facility will help clean up river

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE The good news is when the new Jones Ferry Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) facility opens in about two years, about 40 percent of the city's CSO problem will be fixed. The bad news is 48 percent of the problem in 32 locations will still need to be addressed.

City officials broke ground on Wednesday on the new treatment facility. The city is working under a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency to correct the antiquated sewage pipes that allow sewage to be swept into the Connecticut River during a storm.

Department of Public Works head Stanley Kulig explained there has been "not much" federal assistance on the city's effort so far to correct the problem. This new project will cost $14.3 million and Kulig added that sum is "on the backs of the rate payers."

The project will be under construction during the same time as the Fairview CSO. Kulig said there would be some inconvenience to the residents of the immediate neighborhood, although not as much as in Fairview.

Currently when wastewater flows into the present pumping station about 20 million gallons can be treated. With a storm, as much as 80 million gallons come into the facility and millions of gallons with untreated sewage flow into the river, Tom Hamel the chief operator of the facility explained.

Kulig said the remaining CSOs are located along both the Connecticut and Chicopee Rivers.

Mayor Michael Bissonnette said he remembered playing along the river as boy and seeing raw sewage floating in it. He added that great strides have been made in cleaning up the Connecticut River.