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Community Report: Raw Sewage Dumped Into Passumpsic As Town Continues Decades-Long Clean-Up

Passumpsic River Valley, looking north
Joshua Conover
Thousands of gallons of raw sewage and stormwater poured into the Passumpsic River this month, as St. Johnsbury works to comply with federal and state mandates to separate stormwater and wastewater.

In a year with heavy spring and summer storms across Vermont, rainfall totals can add up quickly and cause overflows of storm and sewage into rivers and lakes. Towns all over the state battle this same issue and each year, neighborhoods statewide have their roads torn up in a continual effort to upgrade aging infrastructure that could otherwise allay the overflows.

Reporter Todd Wellington dug into this topic in St. Johnsbury, and wrote an article for the Caledonian Record about what he found.

Among other things, Wellington found that thousands of gallons of stormwater and raw sewage poured into the Passumpsic River in July alone. St. Johnsbury has initiated several waste water and stormwater discharges this month - on July 1, July 14 and July 20. And though the town is not out of compliance with state and federal mandates in doing so, Wellington sought to find out more about how this works in other small communities across Vermont and the country.

In his reporting, Wellington found that a longterm clean-up effort on the Passumpsic is far from over, but with ongoing and decades-long work, fewer gallons of sewage now end up in the river than in the past.  

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