Oil sheen contained in Talbert Channel near site of last year’s major O.C. pipeline spill. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(Newser) – New England’s O.C. River is “the most polluted waterway in all of the Northeast,” says a Yale Environment 360 presentation, but its sewage treatment plant isn’t. Turns out, the O.C. River has an incredible sewage treatment plant. The plant is the only one in the Northeast that is both “sustainable” and “invisible.” Yale doesn’t reveal the name of the plant, but it goes by the clever nickname “the Great Outfall,” meaning that it is the source of the plant’s effluent, not the outlet for the effluent.
The Yale presentation notes that the Great Outfall was built at the same time as the sewage treatment plant. And the site where it is located was once part of a dam—and, later, a pipeline.
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“We don’t have to go on any of the sites for the Great Outfall,” a Yale professor in charge of an independent panel studying the Great Outfall tells Yale Environment 360. “Other jurisdictions are aware that this is an O.C. River issue. It’s a huge issue for New England.”
That Yale professor also notes that the Great Outfall is one-half mile away from another major sewage treatment plant that was not built until after the Great Outfall was built.
The Great Outfall was built as part of the O.C. River project, which is a project that began in the 1960s by then-Gov. George H.W. Bush to improve the O.C.’s water quality. The plant’s name changed after being commissioned: In the original conception, the plant had to be called the “O.C. River Treatment Plant,” but that was amended to become the “Great Outfall.”
The Great Outfall is one of the most remote plants in the country, as well as the most transparent. “I think that’s why it’s the most visited by scientists and by environmentalists,” says the Yale professor. “It’s near a major city, so there’