Getting rid of sewage has just got a lot easier for boaters in and around Stonington Harbor.
Last Sunday, a demonstration and ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new sewage pump out facility behind the borough treatment plant at the Town Dock.
The $55,000 project, which also contains a docking facility for the Stonington Harbor Management Commission boat, was funded by the state Department of Environmental Protection, Clean Up Sounds and Harbors and the harbor commission.
It was CUSH, though, that for years pushed for the creation of the pump out facility.
Until now, a pump out boat sponsored by the Town of Westerly provided free pump out service to boats here but it had to make the long trip back to Westerly to empty its holding tank of the sewage it collected. Now, it can pull into the new 25-foot dock and pump out its tank before going out to service more boats in the harbor.
“The Stonington facility will reduce the number of trips required, enabling faster service to boaters impatient to get underway and servicing more boats,” according to a statement by CUSH.
Town Engineer Larry Sullivan, who oversaw the project that took just a month to complete using local contractors, said a special attachment is needed to hook into the system. This means that individual boaters cannot pull up to the dock and use it themselves. There is also no public access to the dock.
Construction also involved the installation of a sewer line from the dock to the Town Dock sewer system.
Sullivan said the idea for the project has been around for about five years but no funding was available. He credited CUSH with working to make the project become a reality and seeking funding.
The state DEP contributed $33,000 while CUSH and the harbor commission contributed $11,000 each. The project ended up costing $15,000 less than expected and was finished under budget and ahead of schedule.
According to CUSH, DEP records show the two Westerly pump out boats kept 43,000 gallons of untreated sewage out of local waters in 2010 and over 250,000 gallons since the service began. The pump out boat also serves Watch Hill Harbor and the Pawcatuck River and can be reached by calling VHF Channel 8.
In addition to the environmental benefit of not dumping sewage into coastal waters, violators face fines of up to $25,000 for doing so in the “No Discharge Zone” that stretches from the Pawcatuck to the Mystic River.