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Explore our latest coverage of environmental issues, climate change and more.

Broken Rutland Sewer Pipe Dumped Sewage For Days

More than 100,000 gallons of raw sewage flowed into East Creek in Rutland this week through a broken sewer line, according to city officials.

A sewer pipe in broke during routine cleaning Monday and began leaking raw sewage into the creek, officials reported to state regulators Thursday. Employees didn’t find the leak until three days and 100,000 gallons of sewage later. When they rerouted the sewage to a different pipe, they discoveredthat pipe was broken too, leaking an additional 1,000 to 10,000 gallons into the creek.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation issued a news release about the sewage dump, the first such news release this year.

The release also said an estimated 150,000 gallons has flowed into East Creek, although the department’s website shows a maximum of 110,000 gallons.

Officials warned in the release that the health department determined that 150,000 gallons of raw sewage in state waters has created “the potential for a health hazard.”

“People should stay out of the water and not swim in it, or use it for recreational purposes from Rutland to Proctor for 48 hours after the release has been stopped,” the release said.

The leaks highlight outdated wastewater infrastructure that has posed a threat to the environment – and sometimes public health – for years. Although wastewater treatment facilities make up just three percent of Vermont’s phosphorus pollution into Lake Champlain, environmental advocates say the state needs to do more to prevent sewage spills, and needs to do a better job notifying the public when they happen.

Officials say reporting has improved in recent years, and the state is working on a new system that would allow wastewater treatment plant operators to upload notice of spills directly to the state website that serves as the means of public notification when spills do occur.

City and state officials did not respond to inquiries from VPR on Friday.

Update 5:05 p.m. This story was updated with information from the state's news release.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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