Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour

Saturday, June 16, 10 am – 11: 00 am, Rain or Shine
Westport’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, 8 Elaine Road, Westport
Donation: $5, To register, call 203-222-1424

As the Westport Historical Society’s popular new exhibit, “The Sound & The Saugatuck” explores how Westport’s location—where Long Island Sound estuary meets the tidal Saugatuck River—has shaped town history, the action moves to Westport’s state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant. 

Guided by Steve Edwards,Westport’s Director of Public Works, field trip registrants will visit the Town’s state-of-the-art facility and learn how successful wastewater treatment is helping to protect our watershed. As background for the field trip, registrants may learn Westport’s sewer history by first visiting the exhibit. Key milestones include:

  • 1915-1920: Town builds first sewer system, a network of road-side pipes emptying directly into the Saugatuck.
  • By 1960,Westportbuilds its first sewage treatment plant and continues to monitor waterway quality proactively.
  • Since 2007,Westporthas totally renovated its plant and installed a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment capability that removes nitrogen and uses ultraviolet disinfection.

In Westport, human waste processing remains a public-private partnership. Today, 60 to 65% ofWestport is on Town sewers.  WhenSaugatuckShores sewers are complete, the total will grow to about 70%. The other 30% who have private septic systems rely on the wastewater treatment plant, too. When septic tanks are cleaned, the contents are delivered to the public waste processing plant. At the plant, water first is screen filtered to remove large solid material. Next, it moves to a large tank where helpful microbes eat waste material and bacteria in the water.  After the microbes are removed, the water is released into a chamber where ultraviolet light treatment kills any remaining bacteria.  The cleaned water then empties into the river.

 According to Public Works Director, Steve Edwards, “The term ‘tertiary’ generally suggests that, beyond the biological nutrient removal, there is a physical process such as rapid sand filtration or reverse osmosis.  We have a secondary nutrient removal process, ananoxic treatment tank following the more conventional activated sludge process.  We are probably more correctly referred to as an advanced secondary treatment process.  We are able to meet our effluent guidelines without the very expensive final physical treatment process.”

 Happily,Westporthas fewer beach closures than otherConnecticuttowns. Compared toNorwalkandBridgeport, theWestport’s waste water treatment facility as well as its shoreline’s favorable geographical positioning, current, tide and wind direction help provide our beaches with good water quality. Clean water also helpsWestportmaintain its status as one of just 15 of 36Connecticutcoastal towns that remain open for shellfishing.  However, declining oxygen levels in the lower Saugatuck are cause for concern, and visitors will learn what local residents can do at home to help.

 Major support for The Sound & The Saugatuck, and Watershed Moments comes from annual sponsors, including lead sponsor, BNY Mellon Wealth Management, along with the Betty R. & Ralph Sheffer Foundation, Janet & Fred Plotkin/The Ruth and Adoph Schnurmacher Foundation, Berchem Moses Devlin, Weichert Capital Properties & Estates and Fountainhead Wines.

 Additional Exhibit sponsors include Aquarion Water Company, Resnick Investment Advisors; Green Village Initiative; Mica Corporation; Martayan, Lan, Augustyn Fine Antique Maps; Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club; Westport Rotary Club; Friends of Sherwood Island and CleanTechpmg, LLC.