Town accepts $37.6 million sewer bid

Exceeding $37 million, a construction bid for the renovation of the District I wastewater treatment plant has been accepted by the town, and is being reviewed by state environmental officials.

The low bidder among four, Spectraserve Inc. of South Kearney, N.J., submitted a bid of $37,667,693 for the plant renovation work.

“The qualification review has been completed by our engineering firm, and the recommendation is to award to that contractor, Spectraserve,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi told Hearst Connecticut Media on Monday.

“Now, all of that paperwork has to go to the state,” he said.

The contractor who won the bid will also have to submit paperwork to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“The state has to review it, to certify the contractor,” Marconi said.

“And all of that has to be done before July 1 — otherwise we do not qualify for the phosphorus grant.”

Renovation of the treatment plant off South Street got final approvals from the town’s Planning Zoning Commission and Inland Wetlands Board on May 28.

The project is designed to upgrade the more than 20-year-old sewage treatment plant and improve the level of treatment the village area’s wastewater receives, reducing the levels of both nitrogen and phosphorus released into the Great Swamp, and draining from there into the Norwalk River and, eventually, Long Island Sound.

$48 million total

Last November, voters approved $48 million for the entire project — which in addition to the District I plant renovation includes the closing the District II sewer plant on Route 7, and then building a force-main sewer line to pump that area’s wastewater to South Street for treatment at the renovated District I plant.

That pipeline is not part of the $37 million in work currently awaiting state approval of the bid documents — it will be a separate project. The pipeline’s route is expected to be from Route 7 to Haviland Road, to Limekiln Road to Lee Road to Farmingville Road to Ligi’s Way to South Street.

To accommodate closing of the District II treatment facility, the project would expand the capacity of the South Street plant from 1 million gallons a day to 1,120,000 gallons a day.

In an interview Monday, Marconi still expressed some concern about getting the required state approvals by the end of the month — the deadline for a state grant covering 50 percent of the cost related to the new phosphorus treatment.

The phosphorus grant is about $1.5 million, Marconi said. The $1.5 million is factored in as part of some $11 million in grants that town officials told voters they expected would eventually reduce the local cost of the sewer project.

Marconi said Jon Pearson of AECOM Technical Services, the consulting firm on the project, had said it usually takes the state “a minimum of two or three weeks” to review and approve all the bid work on this kind of project.

Marconi was asked if the state officials reviewing the bid documents were aware of the deadlines for the town to qualify for grants.

“They set them,” he said.

The May 17 bid opening on the plant renovation project showed four bids ranging from Spectraserve’s $37.6 million up to $45.5 million.

The three other bids were: $38,592,000 from Carlin Contracting of Waterford; $41,585,814 from C.H. Nickerson & Company from Torrington; and $45,474,814 from the Morganti Group Inc. of Danbury.

Zoning, wetlands, blue barrels

Final zoning and wetlands approvals for the sewer plant unfolded smoothly. The Planning and Zoning Commission and the Inland Wetlands Board granted unanimous final votes May 28, passing resolutions of approval previously drawn up following a public hearing, discussion, and preliminary approval votes on May 14.

“Thank you, everyone,” said Amy Siebert, chairwoman of town’s Water Pollution Control Authority, the agency which oversees the sewer plant and operations. (The plant is operated contractor, Suez.)

The only adjustment to the resolutions of approval concerned a condition requiring the blue barrels stored behind the plant be removed by the end of the summer. At the suggestion of Wetlands Enforcement Officer Beth Peyser “end of the summer” was substituted with a specific date — Sept. 21, 2019.

Siebert told the commission and wetlands board members that the barrels, which had raised concerns on the site walk, weren’t an environmental concern.

“There’s nothing hazardous in them,” she said. “It’s food-grade polymer.”

At the May 14 public hearing on the plant renovation, Jon Pearson of AECOM Technical Services, the consulting firm on the project, said economics — including ongoing operating costs — were behind the plan to have the District I plant eventually handle the District II wastewater, and then decommission and tear down to the District II plant.

“The decision was made it’s more economical to combine the two facilities,” Pearson said.