Voters in the eight municipalities serviced by the Metropolitan District Commission deserve a lot of credit for approving the first half of a estimated $1.6 billion upgrade to the regional sewer system.
Conventional wisdom would argue against supporting a project whose cost to individual customers has yet to be determined, and whose presence will not be visibly apparent after 17 years of bothersome construction.
Yet, by a 2-to-1 margin, voters recognized that there is no alternative. The work is necessary to eliminate the overflow of billions of gallons of excess sewage that dump regularly into the Connecticut River, neighboring waterways and hundreds of homes in Hartford, West Hartford, Newington and Rocky Hill each year during heavy rainfall.
The backups and overflows occur because much of Greater Hartford's mid-19th-century sewer system carries sanitary sewage and stormwater in the same pipes. Development has introduced so much more sewage and stormwater into the system that it can no longer absorb the volume.
Most of the money will go to build separate conduits for sanitary sewage and rainwater.
MDC officials also intend to expand and improve the agency's sewage treatment plant in Hartford's South Meadows.
Although estimates vary as to how much of the cost might be added to the property-tax bills of homeowners over the life of the project, rest assured that it will be several times what they are paying now.
But residents of the MDC towns understood it was a case of doing it now under local control or having it done by the federal government, possibly at higher cost, later.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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