BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has issued a Health Advisory due to the shutdown of the Greenfield municipal wastewater treatment facility due to flooding associated with Tropical Storm Irene. On Sunday, flooding on the Green River and the Deerfield River inundated the plant with water, causing a shutdown of the treatment facility and a continuing discharge of untreated wastewater into the Deerfield River. As a result, bacterial contamination of these waters is expected.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the Town of Greenfield and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency are conducting a coordinated response effort to assess the damage and determine what measures can be taken to remedy the discharge.
MDPH is recommending that individuals refrain from swimming, wading, kayaking/canoeing, fishing and other recreational water activities/uses of the Deerfield River and the Connecticut River downstream of the Montague City confluence of the Deerfield and Connecticut Rivers until the situation is resolved. Exposure to bacterial contamination can result in gastrointestinal effects (e.g. vomiting, diarrheal illness) as well as respiratory and other irritant effects to eyes and skin. The Greenfield wastewater treatment plant remains submerged but engineers are reviewing plant design to determine what treatment facilities might be resumed once access is regained and an assessment of stability of the facilities is completed. MassDEP is working with MDPH and local health officials to reach out to the public and other officials of municipalities located along the Deerfield River and Connecticut River, to be sure they are aware of the situation.
MassDEP also will commence water quality monitoring of the river(s) for bacteria beginning today and will review the results with MDPH to determine the need for any additional health advisories. Results will be posted on MassDEP and MassDPH’s website.