Fight the Blight: Waterbury cleaning up illegal dumping along Naugatuck River, across Brass City

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Garbage and bulk trash illegally dumped in the Naugatuck River has long been a problem. But a department in the Waterbury Police Department is joining the effort to keep the area clean for residents and the environment.

What Sondra Zak saw on her way home from work disgusted her.

Piles of trash on Platts Mill Road along the Naugatuck River. She didn’t just see trash bags. We’re talking couches, car parts, and air conditioning units — just tossed out and littering what’s normally a beautiful part of the city.

“I get really angry,” Zak said. “It’s not a dumping area for couches and trash and everything else they throw down here.”

She was so angry she decided to stop her car and try to pick up some of the lighter pieces of trash herself.

She also did something else. She called police.

One way the city tackles illegal dumping is by dispatching the Blight Team, which is run by the Waterbury Police Department.

Zak telling News 8 they responded to the area quickly armed with gloves, large plastic bags, and trucks to haul off the heavy items.

“The City of Waterbury is phenomenal,” Zak said. “As soon as they know trash is here they come and get it.”

Sgt. Jose Diaz is the Supervisor of the Blight Team. He tells News 8 dealing with illegal dumping is a daily task and littering ordinances in the city allow police to issue fines or jail time.

“It all depends on the penalty and the amount of garbage that was dumped,” said Sgt. Diaz. “We’re out there daily and we also use a Q Alert System, which is an I-Report System from the citizens of Waterbury they have access to. We get numerous complaints of illegal dumping.”

Sgt. Diaz says they issue ten to twelve violations a month. He also tells News 8, last year they collected about one million pounds of junk and bulk items from all over the city.

“It’s our environment, our world, our Earth,” he said. “We’re here to make it better.”

Zak has a message for those who continue to engage in illegal dumping in her city: “You need to stop. You need to dispose of this stuff properly.”

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