CHESTER -About 30 residents attended a May 30 public hearing which gave details regarding a proposal to upgrade and expand the town’s sewer system to the Deep River Treatment Center.
Kurt Mailman, an engineer from Fuss and O’Neill, an environmental engineering firm, said the $2.5 million proposal would include 67 properties including the 37 properties already on the Maple Street system.
Properties on the existing Maple Street system would be the only ones required to hook in.
A new gravity line and new force main would be installed from east of the Main Street and Maple Street intersection down to the intersection of Main Street and Middlesex Avenue.
Properties along that route would not be required to hook in unless they have a failing septic tank that cannot be repaired.
Edward Ward, the Water Pollution Control Authority, WPCA, chairman, said all property owners would be required to pay a one-time benefit assessment even if they do not hook into the system.
That assessment would be $2,000 for residential properties and $6,000 for commercial properties based on average water consumption of 157 gallons a day or 1 equivalent dwelling unit, EDU.
Owners can choose to pay the benefit assessment up-front or over a 20 year period with a 2 percent interest charge which would be passed onto future owners of that property.
The WPCA has not yet determined the connection charge cost for users.
Mailman said that these assessments are inexpensive compared to ones in other towns such as East Lyme which has a $7,840 assessment.
While 1 EDU is the minimum an owner could be charged, those using a portion of an EDU would be assessed a surcharge of a full EDU.
Residents would be assessed a surcharge of $750 per additional EDU and commercial businesses a surcharge of $1,000 per additional EDU.
Assessments are projected to bring a total of $360,000 from residences and businesses.
System users would pay 25 percent of the debt service, an annual flow-based cost, and annual administrative costs.
Mailman said this would mean the average user would pay between $700 and $750 for 1 EDU per year to be on the system.
It is expected that the number of users on the system will increase over time as septic tanks fail which would decrease the annual cost.
Ward said that the only property owner expressing a desire to connect to the expanded system is the Chesterfield Health Care Center at 132 Main Street, which has problems with its septic system.
Only a proposed force main is proposed for Middlesex Avenue from its intersection with Main Street southbound near the Deep River town line.
Those properties would be unable to hook into the system and would not be charged a benefit assessment.
Mailman said if many systems fail in that area, residents could later petition the town to expand the gravity sewer line allowing them to hook in.
An inter-municipality agreement between Deep River and Chester would allow Chester to pump a maximum 40,000 gallons a day to Deep River, Mailman said.
Mailman said that it is expected 20,000 gallons a day of wastewater would be transported to the Deep River Treatment Facility allowing additional capacity to be available for the future.
The town has obtained $1,000,000 from the Small Town Economic Assistance Program, STEAP, $375,000 for a Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, Clean Water Fund grant for 25 percent of eligible project costs, and $1,125,000 for a 2 percent interest loan for the remainder of eligible project costs.
The town is expected to take on 75 percent of the debt service which equates to $36,000 per year and will be paid off over 20 years.
Mailman said it has been determined the project would increase the mil rate by less than one tenth of a mil.
Some residents questioned why the agreement has such a high capacity and whether Chesterfield’s would receive the biggest benefit as a result of the expanded system.
Others said they were more satisfied than in the past since the project’s size and cost have been decreased compared to the original proposal.
That proposal, presented to residents in 2004, would have still connected Chester with the Deep River Treatment Center but included eleven sewer extensions for various streets including Middlesex Avenue.
In 2004 dollars, the proposal would have cost $3.8 million and required mandatory hookups of 183 properties.
Mailman said other alternatives that were studied included on-site rehabilitation of the existing subsurface disposal system on Maple Street, off-site subsurface disposal system sites, SSDS, and treatment processes, and providing public sewer to the existing Deep River Treatment Plant.
The firm and the WPCA determined that the later option would best meet the needs of the town for the next 20 years and would be the least costly solution.
Mailman said the solution seeks to address a DEP Consent Order in 1990 which accused the town’s Maple Street system of having inadequate nitrogen removal, hydraulic overloads, and inadequate phosphorous removal.
Deep River’s system has operated since 1990 without environmental violations and waste would be treated in the same process as used in Cape Cod in its sensitive estuarine areas.