Wetland violation issued by a car wash for sewage dumping; DEEP to test Self
Posted: Jan 26, 2022 12:39 PM
The Inland Wetlands (IW) Commission at its Jan. 26 meeting is expected to discuss a wetland violation for the discharge of sewage by QuiXpress Car Wash, 1 Simm Lane, which is owned by TMR Realty Newtown, LLC.
A notice of violation sent to Nicholas Walters, owner of New York-based TMR Realty, said a review of 1 Simm Lane on July 1 and August 13, 2021, “revealed that regulated activities in inland wetlands had took place on [the] property…that violate the Newtown Inland Wetlands By-law.
Violations include modifying the car wash’s stormwater system to facilitate the discharge of car wash wastewater into a wetland and creek.
“Multi-foot drains have been modified to accommodate water pumped from trench drains into the wash bay,” Land Use Enforcement Officer Steve Hnatuk said in the violation letter. “Additionally, it appears that the stormwater pond overflow has been modified to move water from the pond into the creek at all levels of stormwater discharge.”
Senior Land Use Enforcement Officer Steve Maguire said the downspout from a drain tank had been “modified to allow direct pumping into the catch basin and then in the stream”.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will conduct soil tests to see what contaminants are in the soil, which could include motor oil and soaps.
“We’ll see what the levels are and then determine if we need to look downstream and on nearby properties,” Maguire said.
The violation letter alleges that the discharge of sewage into the IW Restricted Areas occurred “at a minimum” during a period of four months between March and July 2021, an additional 22 months between May 2019 and March 2021 and a six-month period between June 2018 and December 2018, based on submitted car wash sewage pump records as well as conversations between Walters and the Land Use Office.
“Observations of [the IW] office and Chris Gerke of [the] Connecticut [Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] showed that the spillage occurred at a constant rate each time the car wash was running,” Hnatuk said.
Maguire said most car washes are connected to the city sewer line, but there is no sewer line in the 1 Simm Lane area.
“It is very expensive [to have the wastewater tanks pumped]; I guess that’s why they do it,” Maguire said.
Maguire said the “illegal cuts” were shut down following the city’s issuance of the notice of violation.
The violation letter states that to comply, TMR Realty Newtown must complete and submit a detailed Newtown Interior Wetlands Permit Application, which identifies and repairs impacted wetlands and waterways where sewage has been rejected.
In addition, a full site survey of the storm drain system and recycling tank for the car wash must be submitted to “ensure the system operates as originally designed and approved.” It also states that any further violations of IW regulations “will result in additional citations.”
While the city awaits soil test results, that may mean the CBI action is filed on Wednesday until the results are known.
Looking ahead, if test results return to acceptable levels, “then that’s the end of it,” Maguire said. However, if it is discovered that there are contaminants in the catch basin, the City and DEEP will have to “look downstream and off-site for any impacts”.
This is not the first time a car wash at this location has violated Inland Wetlands and DEEP. In 2011, the car wash operating at this site was fined $35,000 for an intentional sewage spill in April 2009, which polluted the site and entered a nearby creek. The car wash at the time was owned by GOV Car Wash LLC and GOV Real Estate, LLC, both of Redding.
Approximately 2,500 gallons of sewage was intentionally dumped from underground tank #3 at the car wash. After the spill, environmental cleanup workers removed about 120 cubic meters of contaminated soil from a grassy area at the car wash, and also removed about 3,000 gallons of liquid, according to a statement from DEEP.
Along with the $35,000 fine, the lawsuit included a permanent order requiring the companies to comply with state water pollution law and not allow any pollution on site.
Walters did not immediately respond to a call for comment from The Newtown Bee.
Journalist Jim Taylor can be reached at [email protected]
A vehicle rolls out of the QuiXpress Car Wash car wash on January 24. The South Main Street business is one of four topics on the agenda for tonight’s Inlands Wetlands Commission meeting, following a wetlands breach. —Bee Photo, Hicks