State of Vermont
Agency of Natural Resources
Department of Environmental Conservation
Compliance & Enforcement Division
Press Release

October 04, 2005
City of Burlington

The City of Burlington has agreed to pay $58,375 towards a supplemental environmental project and to replace a failed sewer pipe before the end of the year to settle violations relating to a sewage spill into the Winooski River in April, 2005.

More than 500,000 gallons a day of raw sewage spilled into the Winooski River for eight days after the sewer pipe was undermined and broke. The City was found to have discharged raw sewage into the river without a permit; failed to maintain their wastewater collection system in good working order and failed to provide adequate staff to operate the wastewater treatment plant.

"The discharge was a substantial violation," Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg said, "But for the time of year, this could have represented a significant threat to public health. The City will now replace the pipe entirely and use directional drilling to bury it well under the river so that we should not have a recurrence of this problem in the future."

Burlington will spend $1.4 million to replace the old sewer pipe with a new one buried deep under the Winooski River.

In October of 1997 erosion was discovered around the 24 inch sewer pipe in question. Upon further investigation it was determined that the pipe, which was designed to be buried under the river bed, had become undermined. Measures were put in place to support the pipe and the pipe was repaired. In the summer of 1998 the City of Burlington sent a diver into the river to inspect the repairs. The pipe was found to be adequately supported at that time, but no additional inspections were conducted over the next six years.

On April 4th of this year the flow into the Burlington North Wastewater Treatment Facility declined precipitously however the plant operator did not investigate the cause of the drop in flow until April 6th. The Agency of Natural Resources was informed of the problem around midday on April 6th. Work to temporarily repair the pipe took eight days and cost the city more than $40,000.

The settlement requires that the pipe be replaced by the end of 2005.

For Further Information please contact:
Attorney Gary Kessler at 802-241-3820 or email to gary.kessler@state.vt.us