An Open Letter to Senator Marx on Old Lyme Sewers


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Dear Senator Marx:                                                             

When the Board of the Sound View Sewer Coalition last met with you in March 2023, we presented our reasons for opposing sewers in Old Lyme. We showed you test results from 2017–2021, authored by the State of Connecticut Health Department, which clearly showed that Old Lyme was not contributing to pollution in the Long Island Sound.  We would now like to present additional data, just released by the State of Connecticut, to include water testing for 2022–23. You now have 7 years of current test data authored by the State, and all of these reports clearly indicate that Old Lyme is NOT polluting the Sound.

The only test data suggesting that there had been any type of pollution in Old Lyme is over 10 years old. Since then, the Town passed a septic tank pump-out ordinance. Analysis of the most current groundwater testing (2019) indicated that there is no ground water contamination, but that test data has been ignored, even though it was mandated by the DEEP and commissioned by the Old Lyme WPCA.

On the other hand, there is a long, documented history of sewage treatment plant failures and sewage system breaks resulting in millions of gallons of raw sewage spilling into our rivers and waterways that cost millions of dollars to correct, and adding more volume to an already broken infrastructure will only make matters worse. CT Sewage Right-to-Know

In June ’23, Governor Lamont approved $85 million of Connecticut’s Clean Water Fund to alleviate flooding and sewage overflows in Hartford— a problem that has existed for several years now, and which has had devastating effects on private and commercial properties. 

Given the cost of sewer construction and maintenance, sewers for this small Old Lyme beach community, which is mostly vacant 8 months out of the year, are not cost-effective.  Although the cost of major infrastructure initiatives has gone up, the cost of green solutions has come down, rendering green approaches the most cost-effective solutions, as mandated by DEEP.  Our community would like to embrace these green, state of the art, manageable, and cost-efficient solutions.

Our community has also suffered in the past with water shortages. Connecticut Water has needed to truck in water from other areas to serve the needs of Old Lyme. A sewer system would send wastewater out of town to New London, further depleting the Old Lyme aquifer, and leading to issues of land shrinkage, sinking, and subsidence.

Despite all of this research and new data, we feel that our plight has fallen on deaf ears. We were very disappointed to learn that in spite of all the solid information we provided, you authored the following, ruling out all solutions except sewers:

C G A – Connecticut General Assembly An act authorizing bonds of the State ($14 mil) for sewer project in Old Lyme.  While we understand that your intentions were to obtain funding for local projects, the only true solution to this issue is to defeat sewers and provide green solutions for individual property owners.  As of September 1, 2023, the sewage municipal agreement between Old Lyme and New London expired. Failure to execute that contract has left the Town of Old Lyme and the private beach associations liable for stiff financial penalties. Since Old Lyme has received only 60% of the design to date it’s inconceivable that this $55 million project will be ‘shovel ready’ anytime soon.  In the mean time private property owners are moving forward with maintenance and upgrades on their own.

Senator Blumenthal understands that sewage treatment plants are a problem, not a solution. In July and August 2023 both Connecticut and New York battled torrential downfalls and flooding.  We saw the effect here in Old Lyme as uprooted trees floated down the rivers to our beaches.  And yet, our Old Lyme beaches, per the State of Connecticut Health Dept, tested clean, while beaches in East Lyme, with sewer systems, were contaminated by sewerage outflow. This August, Connecticut renewed $236K to continue water testing and monitoring of our state beaches.  We applaud testing, which shows that Old Lyme’s beaches are not polluting, and we share Senator Blumenthal’s concern that it is the failure of the large sewage treatment plants that significantly impact The Sound—not private homeowners. To quote Senator Blumenthal (August 23 NBC): “The New York sewerage plants are probably the biggest source of contamination of Long Island Sound. And it is ongoing. Until New York cleans up its act, literally, Long Island Sound will be at risk.” ”Connecticut gets renewed $236K grant to monitor state beach water quality – NBC Connecticut

We urge you, Senator Marx, to hear the voice of your constituents, and also to listen to your peers. Representative Carney recognizes that green solutions, as implemented in Old Saybrook, are a possibility. Why can’t you?

There are better ways. Let’s not waste $14 million plus of State funds to build a sewer infrastructure that is neither needed nor wanted.  Let’s address existing problems and not create new ones.   

Frank Pappalardo (Co-Chair)
Dennis Melluzzo (Co-Chair)
Mary Daley (Secretary)

Sound View Sewer Coalition
Old Lyme, CT