Citizen Scientists Steer Efforts To Jumpstart Black Rock Harbor’s Recovery

At 6:25 a.m. on the cloudy, humid first day of summer, two teenage aquaculture students huddle at the back of their school boat as it backs away from a dock in Black Rock Harbor in western Bridgeport. Charlotte Hickey grips a heavy cylindrical metal probe that is about a foot and a half long. The students call this “the beast.” It contains electronics that precisely measure water conditions. Sienna Matregrano holds a clipboard and pen, ready to record depth, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, fluorescence and turbidity. Both girls are seniors at Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculture School.

Cost Of Modernizing Century-Old Infrastructure Means Foul Spills At Black Rock Harbor Will Go On For Decades

On the west and east sides of narrow Black Rock Harbor in western Bridgeport, industry, school, recreation and sewage treatment converge. At the most inland tip are Santa Energy’s oil tanks. On the east side stretch asphalt runways at Pratt & Whitney’s test airport and a city landfill. On the west side stand O & G Industries sand and stone yard, an empty industrial building, a city landfill, a trash-to-energy plant, the regional aquaculture high school, a seaport, shops, a restaurant and sailing teams’ docks. Last on this list is the Bridgeport West Side Water Pollution Control Facility, the city’s largest sewage treatment plant, which began work this year on a 20-year plan to correct chronic overflows.

Dead Fish, Condoms, Brown Foam: Sewage Has Chokehold On Black Rock Harbor

On April 25, 2018, Patrick Clough walked onto a dock at Fayerweather Yacht Club on Black Rock Harbor in western Bridgeport. He looked down. Swirling around the dock was a brown, foamy slick. Women’s sanitary products and other objects floated in it. He posted a photo of the discharge on two Black Rock neighborhood Facebook pages, writing “This is disgusting.”

A week before Clough captured that photo, equipment malfunctioned at the Bridgeport West Side Water Pollution Control Facility.

How C-HIT’s Christine Woodside reported this project

Christine Woodside had long wanted to understand why sewage overflows regularly in some of Connecticut’s cities. She settled on the Bridgeport neighborhood of Black Rock, on Black Rock Harbor and near the promenades of Seaside Park. There she found recreation, industry, and local people who were getting tired of pollution. She went to Black Rock at least a dozen times between late March and late July. She read sewage plan documents.