NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The storm drain which can be seen just below Roland Hall which serves as a field house for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is from where raw sewage has been flowing into the Thames River since 1997.
News8 has learned at the time renovations were being done on two locker rooms and a pipe carrying wastewater was hooked up to the wrong outbound pipe.
“There’s a sewer line and there’s a storm drain which are literally right next to each other or at least within a couple of feet,” said Ryan McCammon who is with the Ledge Light Health District.
Instead of going to the wastewater treatment plant the raw sewage was sent into the river.
“What they told me was they were both cast iron pipes and just picked the wrong one unfortunately,” added McCammon.
As soon as the Coast Guard Academy learned about the problem the locker rooms which are used for visiting referees and visiting teams were shut down and DEEP was contacted. It’s estimated that between 145 to 200 gallons a day were discharged mostly from the visiting teams locker room.
“At most maybe 20 days a month for nine months a year so there’s an entire summer season when it’s not used at all,” said McCammon.
McCammon says while you never want to see raw sewage sent into a river the Thames is so massive most of it would be diluted. The Academy’s mission now is to fix the problem which could cost upwards of $100,000 because the sewer line sits higher than the line running from the bathrooms.
“So it’s lower so they have to actually dig it all the way back, raise the plumbing, and then come back over and that’s why the cost is,” said McCammon.
The academy is hoping to have repairs complete by August 1st when the football players return.
“The Coast Guard is basically saying we own this. This is ours. We’re going to make sure it gets fixed which is great,” says McCammon.
The one concern the Ledge Light Health District does has is with shell fishing in the area. It is working with the State Bureau of Aquaculture to find out exactly what shell fishing activity may be taking place now and what has taken place over the past twenty years in that part of the river.