Bennington board to hear sewer study results
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | December 10,2012
Patrick McArdle / Staff photo
The Bennington Select Board tonight will hear the results of a study that looked at upgrades needed at the municipal wastewater treatment facility in the next few years.
BENNINGTON — The Select Board will hear the results of an in-depth, two-year study of the town’s wastewater system which Town Manager Stuart Hurd said is likely to be the next major improvement project for the town.
Tonight’s meeting is expected to be an informational report for the Select Board and residents, but Hurd said he and his staff will be encouraging the board to take action within the next few years. The town’s sewer system is in compliance with state regulations now and is serving its function well, but Hurd pointed out that the wastewater treatment facility is about 30 years old and some of the sewer pipes date back to the 1960s.
Staff with Aldrich and Elliott, an Essex Junction-based water resources engineering firm, looked at sewer lines, pump stations and the wastewater treatment facility. Tonight, they will make a presentation that will describe their findings and recommendations.
Hurd said the cost of making all the identified upgrades could be high.
“When they put this whole project together, they estimated in the range of some $12 million to $17 million total. That assumes that we replace everything, that everything gets done, (that) we upgrade the entire plant, all the machinery, everything else, and we do some major improvements to the main sewer line,” he said.
However, Hurd said residents should be aware that he thinks it very unlikely that the Select Board would try to put a bond before voters in March.
He also said that town staff would be reviewing the recommendations to reach their own conclusion. When the time comes to commit to an upgrade, Hurd said he expects the cost would be less than the engineers’ estimates. Water Resources Supervisor Terry Morse has been asked to look at the engineer’s report and consider what effect it would have on the infrastructure as well as the sewer rate.
“Over the course of the next year, (town staff) can come back (to the Select Board) with recommendations on how we might address some of these problems on an annual basis and how we might address some of the bigger issues with a bond issue that might be in the range of anywhere from $7 million to $8 million,” he said.
The main sewer line that the town would look for is a 16-inch pipe that runs along Northside Drive and parallel to Route 67A on its way to the wastewater treatment plant. Residents may have noticed work being done in that area this summer but that was for the water line, not the sewer line, along Northside Drive.
Hurd said town staff was aware of the needs for upgrade of the sewer line and the problems caused when extra water gets into the line because it uses up some of the capacity at the wastewater treatment plant.
As an example of a less expensive way of addressing the system’s needs, Hurd said the town was looking at other methods of clearing and securing the line and access points along its length rather than the costlier method of digging up and replacing the line.
The Select Board meeting tonight will start at 6 p.m. at the Bennington fire facility. Representatives of Aldrich and Elliott, Morse and George LeBlanc, manager of the municipal wastewater treatment plant, are expected to be at the meeting.