Tom’s Brook Outfall in Byram Harbor – Greenwich – CT

A friend asked me,  how does one clean up a brook that flows through a fly ash pile at the old Town incinerator?  Good question.  The problem is leaching out of heavy metals, especially lead and chromium.  What absorbs those:  well, it turns out that oak trees and various marsh reed grasses do an excellent job.

Here’s the problem:  A 23 ft high pile of old ash leaching into the Brook with no remediation efforts.  This was approved by the Wetlands Agency in 1980.  Do they care yet about water quality in our streams and rivers?  (rhetorical pause…)

Mt. Fly Ash at Holly Hill

After flowing under the Holly Hill Resource Recovery Facility, formerly an incinerator/dump for the Town of Greenwich, CT,  this brook makes its way to Byram Harbor, with the last natural area and opportunity for a bio-filter trap of silt and metals being south of the Turnpike just west of Ritch Avenue.  Note the stream sediments.

The last stilling pool - note the sediments

The brook then “falls out” at Byram Harbor:

The 5 x 10 ft outfall box culvert at high tide elevation

Another opportunity for water quality presents itself in the form of a clean-able forebay.  This would be a berm near the high tide level with a truck ramp access to collect and remove what now flows though to the Sound.  Like ducks in a row (mute swans – forgive me.)  In storms the berm overflows.  In dry weather, the water near the middle to lower third – the cleanest water – leaks out into the harbor slowly.

Clean-able Forebay Option site

And finally, the receiving waters where remaining sediments and metals sink into the Harbor, which the EPA classifies as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act.

Byram Harbor on a January day


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