Melanie Stengel / C-HIT
On a dry day, the West Side plant handles about 18 million gallons of waste. The waste circulates through three screening tanks where human feces, sanitary napkins, condoms and others items are screened out. (Melanie Stengel / C-HIT)

BIRDGEPORT, CT — On the west and east sides of narrow Black Rock Harbor in western Bridgeport, industry, school, recreation and sewage treatment converge.

At the most inland tip are Santa Energy’s oil tanks. On the east side stretch asphalt runways at Pratt & Whitney’s test airport and a city landfill. On the west side stand O & G Industries sand and stone yard, an empty industrial building, a city landfill, a trash-to-energy plant, the regional aquaculture high school, a seaport, shops, a restaurant and sailing teams’ docks.

Last on this list is the Bridgeport West Side Water Pollution Control Facility, the city’s largest sewage treatment plant, which began work this year on a 20-year plan to correct chronic overflows.

All those buildings lie at the end of Bostwick Avenue, near the constant hum of I-95, a short distance from Seaside Park and within view of a historic lighthouse and beautifully restored park called St. Mary’s by the Sea.

Sewage filters and breaks down at the West Side plant. The treated effluent pours through a 72-inch discharge pipe into Black Rock Harbor. Several times a year, stormwater mixed with sewage overwhelms the system of pipes leading to the plant. Then untreated sewage and rain diverts directly into the harbor through combined sewer overflow (CSO) pipes. Although the city has shut down some of its CSO pipes, 30 of them still are active, including the five in the Black Rock area.

Click here to continue reading the second part of a three part series about sewage overflows in the Black Rock Harbor. Click here to read the first part.