Ridgefield receives more than $1 million in state funding for Route 7 sewer project

RIDGEFIELD — The state Bond Commission this week approved more than $77 million for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which will fund several initiatives aimed at protecting the environment including in Ridgefield.

DEEP’s Clean Water Fund received $60 million to assist municipalities in planning, designing and constructing wastewater infrastructure to protect public health and water quality.

The $60 million will be distributed among projects on the fund’s current priority list, which includes Ridgefield’s Route 7 sewer project.

Earlier this year voters approved $2.9 million of federal American Rescue Plan monies for the project, which addresses new regulations and environmental standards at the state and federal levels while returning long-term operational cost savings.

Jon Pearson, of AECOM, the engineering firm overseeing the project, said Ridgefield could net up to $1.4 million in grant funding from DEEP’s Clean Water Fund.

“The estimated grant amount is dependent on whether DEEP agrees that the ARPA funds can be used to pay for the approximately $1.1 (million) in ineligible paving costs,” Pearson said in an email to Hearst Connecticut Media. “If they agree with the request to use the ARPA funds to pay for the ineligible paving costs, then the estimated grant amount would be $1.36 (million). If they do not agree … then the estimated grant amount would be $1.14 (million).”

A top-to-bottom renovation of the town’s District I plant on South Street is more than 50 percent complete. The goal is to close the District II plant on Route 7 and pipe that wastewater to South Street for treatment through a new force-main sewer line.

Voters approved an estimated $48 million for the projects in 2018, but the actual costs came in at more than $55 million, according to calculations from Ridgefield’s Water Pollution Control Authority.

The money from DEEP will partially fund the construction of the new sewer line as well as a pump station, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

The state pushed the town to undertake the projects to meet new regulations and environmental standards under the federal Clean Water Act. Upgrades to the District II plant, which is 30 years old, were sidelined since the town would’ve had to hire personnel to operate the facility 24/7.

“When you begin calculating all of those costs to upgrade the plant due to age and environmental standards, it’s extremely expensive, hence the reason to go with the pump station,” Marconi said in an earlier interview. “The capacity numbers will not be impacted at all. Everyone who has sewage capacity in that plant today will have it tomorrow.”

Once the South Street plant is fully upgraded and connected to District II, it will be able to treat 1.12 million gallons of effluent a day. Marconi said the second phase of the project is expected to break ground this spring.