March 6,  2014

Contact:     Karl Wagener, Executive Director



Read the special report, Testing the Effluent: Some Systems Pass, Some Don't, and Some Won't Say  



       HARTFORD – Most alternative treatment systems (ATS) – the type of sewage system that treats waste from large developments or institutions prior to discharging the treated waste underground – failed to submit some or all of their required monitoring reports to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in 2011 and 2012, according to a report released today by the Council on Environmental Quality.

        Of those facilities that submitted reports during 2011 and 2012 (the period of the Council’s review), only one in seven met their permitted limits for six key pollutants all of the time.

        Forty-one facilities using ATS have permits from DEEP and are required to test the treated wastewater, or effluent, and report the results to DEEP. Another 17 systems operate without discharge permits because they have not yet demonstrated an ability to treat the waste adequately and reliably.

       The special report, Testing the Effluent: Some Systems Pass, Some Don’t, and Some Won’t Say, summarizes the test results submitted by the permitted ATS facilities:

  • Fifteen of the 41 ATS facilities submitted all of their required reports. Most failed to submit some reports, and four missed most or all of them.
  • Six of the permitted ATS facilities reported no violations of effluent limits, and 12 averaged more than one violation per monthly report. (These tests are conducted at the point where the effluent leaves the treatment system but before it enters the leaching field, where further renovation of the wastewater is expected.)
  • The Council selected five facilities (based on higher frequency of violations reported) for examination of the reports from monitoring wells, which are on the periphery of the systems. Three of the five reported violations of the relevant standards.
  • No Notices of Violation were issued for these systems during the review period.

     “It would seem that the consequences for reporting that you are in compliance, reporting that you are not in compliance, or not reporting at all, are the same,” said Council Chair Susan Merrow of East Haddam “The Council is recommending that the law be changed so that facilities which fail to report would face penalties, a shorter time period before they would have to renew their permits, higher permit renewal fees, or all three.”

       “The Council also recommends that DEEP have enough staff to review all of the reports submitted by permitted facilities, and that testing results be published on DEEP’s website so the public can stay informed,” Merrow continued. “This last point is particularly important because we foresee greater demand for these alternative sewage systems in the future, especially along the coast as rising sea level makes traditional septic systems inoperative. Communities have to have confidence that these systems will protect the environment.”

About the Council on Environmental Quality

      The Council on Environmental Quality is required by state law to submit the state’s annual report on the status of Connecticut’s environment to the Governor and to recommend legislation for correcting deficiencies in environmental laws. The Council publishes special reports, such, as this one, to analyze identified problems in greater detail. Additional responsibilities of the Council include review of environmental impact evaluations of other state agencies, publication of the twice-monthly Environmental Monitor, and investigation of citizens’ complaints and allegations of violations of environmental laws. The Council is a nine-member board that is independent of DEEP (except for administrative functions). The chairman and four other members are appointed by the Governor, two members by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and two by the Speaker of the House.
        All reports are available on the Council’s website,