After someone trashed the Naugatuck River, teens team up to clean the water


NAUGATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) — It sparked outrage among people in Naugatuck and those who love the Naugatuck River.

“It makes me very angry, people coming and trash this place,” said Waterbury resident Pete Withee, who’s been coming to the Naugatuck River for ten years. Today, he was enjoying time relaxing by the river with his dog.

Withee is referring to an incident a couple of weekends ago when a group of people left liquor bottles and other trash right along the river. Some people who saw the group tell News 8 the people were rude when they were told not to litter the place.

When the police department found out what was going on, they put up fences to block cars from parking in access ways at the river and beefed up patrols, as well, in an effort to look for potential violators and illegal dumping.

Police told News 8 last Friday night, they would threaten to take someone’s car away if they were caught engaging in illegal dumping.

“We share our community’s outrage about this,” said Deputy Chief Colin McAllister of the Naugatuck Police Department.

Withee agrees with the moves police have made. Now, there’s another group making moves — a group of teenagers. They belong to the Waterbury River Brigade and every summer they work to clean up the Naugatuck River. Among their haul today — the kids pulled out metal pipes and bars, a shopping cart, even part of a washing machine.

They spend 8 hours a day in the river constantly pulling out piles of debris and junk that harm the water. In fact, they had just cleaned the area where the mysterious group of litterers struck. The pollution they left behind, drew this reaction from the Waterbury river Brigade:

“Honestly quite repulsive,” said Zak Robushi.

Robushi and others in his group remain committed to cleaning and protecting the river they love. And they’re getting rewarded for their work. The Connecticut Community Foundation is awarding them a $3,000 grant this week and another youth group is giving the brigade more muscle for their daily cleaning efforts. The Pomperaug Rivershed Youth Coalition is now joining them.

“I enjoy being part of a team that is aware of the issues in our rivers and making a change,” said Aidan Essig.

Members of both groups definitely feel like they’re making a positive change.

“We’re making a difference for not only us as people but for the animals that live here,” said Elena Capio, of the Waterbury River Brigade.

“A lot of people think that picking up one small thing isn’t gonna do anything but if everyone does it this whole world would be clean,” fellow brigade member, Zak Robushi said.

So far, Naugatuck Police have not caught whoever trashed the river.

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