Marconi expects WPCA can cover sewer project

Although the cost of rebuilding the town’s District I sewer plant came in somewhat high — exceeding $37 million — First Selectman Rudy Marconi expects the Water Pollution Control Authority can handle it.

“The estimate was $32-or-$33 million. It did come in a little higher,” Marconi told fellow selectmen as they re-approved bonding resolutions for the sewer project.

A total of $48 million was approved by voters last November for the sewer project, but that was projected to cover the renovation of the District I treatment plant off South Street, which came in at $37.7 million, and also the cost of closing the District II plant at Routes 7 and 35 and building a pipeline to bring that District II wastewater to the District I plant off South Street for treatment.

The work to decommission the District II plant, and build the pipeline to South Street, hasn’t gone out to bid yet. But Marconi said the town Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) was optimistic that it could cover the entire project’s costs without going back to the taxpayers for more money.

“The WPCA feels, within its cash flow, it can cover the difference,” Marconi told fellow selectmen. “It may have to put some of its other projects on hold.”

“Right now, we’re covered?” asked Selectman Bob Hebert.

“We’re covered,” said Marconi.

That was June 19. The town was awaiting action by the state bonding commission to approve borrowing — hundreds of millions of dollars — expected to cover the state’s share of numerous clean water projects, including the one in Ridgefield.

Marconi said in a July 1 email to The Press that the bonding commission had approved the big borrowing package. He also said WPCA chairwoman Amy Siebert had signed a contract for the work on the District I plant, and the paperwork was submitted to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) before the June 30 deadline to qualify for clean water money — although the town was still awaiting final approval.