Renovation plans for the District I sewer plant — including odor control systems the facility now lacks — won the tentative approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland Wetland Board on Tuesday night, May 14.
Following a public hearing, the commission and board members voted unanimously to have resolutions drafted for both zoning and wetlands approvals, and brought back for review at their next meeting on May 28.
The project is being driven by the need to upgrade the District I sewer plant on South Street — and also District II plant serving the commercial area near the intersection of Routes 7 and 35 — to meet new environmental standards under the Clean Water Act. The District I plant is also at a point where it’s equipment is at the end of its expected useful life.
“The plant is 20, 25 years old,” Water Pollution Control Authority chairwoman Amy Siebert told the hearing.
The combined project — for which voters approved $48 million last fall — will involve building a new pump station and forced main sewer line from the District II plant, which will be closed, to South Street so wastewater from both districts can be treated at renovated District I plant.
“This is a plan resulting from several years of work,” Siebert said. “...We worked a long time to try to keep the cost controlled, as well, because it will impact rates.”
Siebert had previously said that rebuilding the District I treatment plant is projected to use about $32 million of the $48 million approved for the whole project by voters in November 2018.
Jon Pearson of AECOM Technical Services, the consulting firm on the project, described plans to replace aging equipment, and expand the treatment plant’s capacity from the current 1 million gallons a day to 1,120,000 gallons per day — with the added capacity allowing the plant to handle the addition wastewater from the Routes 7 and 35 area after the District II plant is closed.
“The decision was made it’s more economical to combine the two facilities,” he said.
A project description of the District I plant renovation says: “...The proposed project includes retrofit of existing equipment, a 14-foot wide paved driveway, and installation of the following new structures: UV/reaeration building; septage receiving building; maintenance garage/blower building; chemical building; electrical building; thickened sludge storage tank.”
Pearson told the hearing, “We’re upgrading almost every building or piece of equipment in the facility.”
The renovated plant will have odor control systems on three different aspects of the operation.
Asked if he anticipated that this would substantially reduce the odors which sometimes affect the neighborhood, Pearson said that’s the expectation.
“There is currently no odor control at all at this facility,” he said.
Although the hearing was limited to the renovation of the South Street plant, Pearson did outline the route that the force main sewer line will take from the District II plant, which will be decommissioned, to the upgraded Distrcit I plant. The pipeline will go south on Route 7 to Haviland Road, to Limekiln Road to Lee Road to Farmingville Road to Ligi’s Way to South Street.
In the public comment portion of the hearing John West of Abbott Avenue asked if truck traffic coming to and from the site during construction might damage area roadways, and who would be responsible for their repair.
“This is a two and a half year project, with lots of heavy equipment coming in and out,” he said.
Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli said it was town project and ultimately the town would be responsible for any damage to the roads.
“This is a very important project,” Siebert said at the hearing’s close. “...It should be a big improvement for us.”