State Order Resolved, Essex Shutters Water Pollution Board, Shifts Authority to Selectmen

Essex Board of Selectmen (left to right) Selectman Bruce Glowac, First Selectman Norm Needleman, Selectman Stacia Libby (CT Examiner/Hewitt)


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ESSEX — By a unanimous vote, the Board of Selectmen repealed the ordinance establishing the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority, transferring its responsibilities to the selectmen. The move is part of an effort by town elected officials to professionalize municipal services, and follows measures by the town that have satisfied a state order to address water pollution.

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman explained that waste water management issues in the future will appear as “WPCA business,” on the selectmen’s agenda, much as the board now conducts business as the traffic authority for the town.

In 2011, the town hired Lisa Fasulo as the town’s full-time health director. Fasulo is also certified as a sanitarian. Needleman said that she performs “95 percent of the work of the WPCA.”

“We’re not part of a health district, and we have Lisa Fasulo, who deals with all of that on a professional level,” he said. “The WPCA has less and less to do over the years because we have a full-time health director and because we’re not under a [state] order.”

Resolving a state order

On August 10, 1981, the state issued the Town of Essex an order to abate pollution as a result of the town “maintaining conditions that can reasonably be anticipated to cause pollution of the waters of the state under the provision of Chapter 47a, Connecticut General Statutes.”

The order had three separate parts: an inspection program, a wastewater monitoring program, and the establishment of a water pollution control authority with a comprehensive plan to ensure proper disposal of sewage generated within the town.

Needleman said that in response to the state order, the town created a Water Pollution Control Authority out of the existing Sanitary Waste Commission that managed the town dump at the time.

“We instituted a sewer avoidance plan and a wastewater management plan sometime in the 1990s,” Needleman said. “The order from the state long ago was lifted and we no longer have those issues.”

Currently, the town requires that property owners pump out septic systems at least every five years.

“If there’s ever a need we can always reconstitute it, but I don’t believe in having commissions that have gone beyond the time we needed them,” said Needleman. “It’s part of an ongoing effort to streamline the town government and have commissions where we need them, but not have them just to make people come out to meetings once a month.”