LUDLOW, Vt. – Up to 500,000 gallons of treated but not disinfected effluent flowed into the Black River sometime during the 24-hour period between Wednesday, Jan. 23 and Thursday, Jan. 24 when a chlorine line at the Ludlow Treatment Plant failed.
According to Ludlow Municipal Manager Scott Murphy, the exact amount of the tainted water released into the Black River is unknown since daily chlorine and E-Coli testing, done through a third party vendor, takes 24 hours to process. All that is known is that sometime during the 24-hour period between testing, the line that supplies chlorine to the already treated water passing through the Ludlow Treatment Plant was eroded and failed to deliver chlorine to the processed water. “Because we don’t know how many untreated gallons went into the river, we just have to go by a timeframe…that’s why it looks like such a huge amount when in reality we don’t know what the amount was. It was probably a lot less but we can’t say that because we don’t know when it started,” said Murphy.
The test came back showing E. Coli levels at 650 per 100 milliliters. The acceptable level of E. Coli colonies in Vermont is 235 per 100 milliliters.
As soon as the problem was discovered, the cause was determined and the repair made within an hour. Despite heavy rainfall during the 24-hour period, the additional water volume was not a factor in this case.
On May 19, 2015, up to 115,000 gallons of water, treated but not totally disinfected flowed into the Black River when a similar problem occurred after a chlorine pipe failed sometime during the night. Up to 1 million gallons of partially treated, not fully disinfected sewage was released into the Black River in April of 2017 as well.