The Water & Sewer Authority (WSA) is compiling a list of Hawleyville property owners interested in connecting their properties to the planned expansion of the Hawleyville sanitary sewer system.
WSA members held an informational session on May 8 to explain the sewer system expansion project, as well as seek commitments for sewer connections from property owners who own land along the planned sewer route. About 25 people attended the meeting.
WSA Chairman Richard Zang said that the capital costs of sewer system construction would be covered by payments from the property owners who connect to the expanded system. Such capital costs would be paid off by the property owners at low interest rates during a 20-year period. Sewer users also pay sewer connection fees and sewer usage charges.
At a February town meeting, voters by an 81-to-11 margin approved borrowing $2.8 million to expand the Hawleyville sewer system as a means to spur local economic development.
The initial section of the Hawleyville sewer system, which started operation in 2001, is a conventional gravity-powered system augmented by a sewage pumping station.
To hold down design/construction costs on the sewer expansion project, town officials opted for a low-pressure sewer system which employs “grinder pumps” to move sewage under pressure through narrow-diameter pipes.
Mr Zang said the design of the sewer extension project would be based upon the locations of the land whose owners opt to have sewer service for their properties. He said he expects that about eight to 12 property owners would initially decide to connect to the sewers.
Public Works Director Fred Hurley said May 14 that several property owners have notified him that they want to connect to the expanded sewer system. Property owners will have until May 23 to notify the town of their plans to connect, he said. There are about 45 properties lying along the planned sewer expansion route.
Because the sewer expansion is keyed to economic development, and is not based on the need to resolve existing groundwater pollution problems resulting from failing sewer systems, connecting to the Hawleyville sewer extension will be optional.
After some sewer-system design planning is done and the cost implications of the project for individual sewer users are clear, those land owners would be asked to sign a formal agreement requiring them to pay the town some fraction of the sewering project’s overall capital costs across a 20-year period.
Mr Hurley said May 8 that the town initially envisioned a Hawleyville sewer expansion project based on gravity-powered sewers and pumping stations, which could have cost $5 million to $6 million to construct. But building such an expensive sewer extension did not make economic sense, when considering that the town likely would not have been able to recover all those construction costs from sewer system users, he said.
Mr Hurley said that the sewer extension as currently planned would cost roughly $2 million to construct.
The so-called “sewer benefit assessment” charges, which sewer users would pay to cover their share of sewer system construction costs, would be paid off during a 20-year period at less than 3 percent interest, he said.
“There is a lot of attractiveness to going now…This is the time to join it,” he said of the sewer users’ knowing that that they would have a low-interest rate on sewer benefit assessment payments across 20 years, instead of possibly facing a lump-sum payment in the future.
“This is an economic development [sewering] project, not a pollution abatement project,” Mr Hurley said, stressing that connecting to the sewer system expansion is voluntary and not mandatory.
If the Hawleyville project were intended to resolve environmental pollution issues, such those that the central sewer system resolves, then the Hawleyville project would have gravity-powered sewers and mandatory sewer connections, he said.
To make the Hawleyville sewer extension a viable project, a sufficient number of property owners must opt to have sewer service extended to their properties, Mr Hurley said.
Expanding the Hawleyville sewer system is generally intended to make several large undeveloped properties there more attractive to the developers of commercial/industrial projects. Those properties are in the general vicinity of the intersection of Mt Pleasant Road and Hawleyville Road.
When the WSA learns how many property owners want to connect to the sewer system, a basic sewering design would be drawn and the sewer benefit assessments for individual users would be calculated, according to Mr Hurley.
The town hopes to start sewer system construction this summer, he said.
Mr Zang added that the town hopes to complete construction by the end of this year.
Kurt Mailman, the project engineer for town consultant Fuss & O’Neill, Inc, explained to people at the May 8 session how grinder pumps work. The use of such pumps, which grind up sewage to allow it to flow under pressure through narrow-diameter pipes, make low-pressure sewers possible, he said.
The Hawleyville sewer system expansion would extend sewer mains from 166 Mt Pleasant Road eastward along Mt Pleasant Road to its intersection with Hawleyville Road. The sewer mains also would extend northward along sections of Hawleyville Road and Covered Bridge Road.
Sewage from the expansion area would be sent to an existing sewage pumping station located at 164 Mt Pleasant Road. Sewage from the Hawleyville system is sent to a regional sewage treatment plant in Danbury.