Utility Seeks To Implement $671 Million Project For Reducing
Overflow Of Sewage, Rainwater Into City Homes, River
August 8, 2005
By JONATHAN SHUGARTS, Courant Staff Writer
WETHERSFIELD - Property owners in the eight municipalities
served by the Metropolitan District Commission could see the
cost for sewer use more than double in five years under a plan
the district board endorsed in July.
The $671 million plan would reduce combined sewage overflow,
a mixture of rainwater and sewage that backs up into homes in
Hartford and into the Connecticut River and the Wethersfield
The plan was created in response to a 1997 incident in which
21 million gallons of sewage was dumped into the cove as a result
of a faulty coupling holding up a sewage gate leading to the
cove. The DEP levied fines against the MDC and ordered it to
develop a plan to better deal with the overflows.
The draft of the plan was
compiled in April by Camp, Dresser & McKee
Inc., a consulting firm hired by the MDC, which said it represents "the
largest capital expenditure linked to one program in the district's
So far, the plan is estimated to cost $671 million, and if unchanged
means that each household could see the cost for sewer service
jump from an average $126 per year to $267 in 2010. The cost
gets progressively higher until 2025 when it's projected to reach
an average of $602 per household.
And even without the implementation of a long-term solution
for separation of wastewater, the cost for sewer service is projected
to rise to an average of $234 per household by 2010, because
of structural improvements on the aging system.
"The reason for that is we're looking for infrastructure
that is aging. The first pieces were installed right around the
Civil War," said MDC spokesman Matt Nozzolio.
Nozzolio said there is a need for the MDC to invest in improvements
and repairs, regardless of whether the plan is implemented.
The cost per household, however, could change. The average cost
per household differs depending on the towns, which are Hartford,
East Hartford, West Hartford, Newington, Wethersfield, Windsor,
Bloomfield and Rocky Hill.
MDC officials are hoping to secure grants for half the improvements
from either the federal or state level. The rest of the money
could come from either state revolving funds, which are low-interest
state loans, or bond financing.
Some officials, however, have called the method the MDC uses
for billing towns unfair. The billing becomes important because
municipalities will ultimately provide funding for the project
through taxes. Sewer costs are based on the amount of property
tax receipts collected per town.
State Sen. Jonathan Harris,
D-West Hartford, introduced a bill in April calling for a more "equitable and efficient" billing
method. Harris introduced the bill because residents who live
in property rich towns such as West Hartford are footing more
of the bill for the sewer system, according to a statement. The
bill was not approved by the legislature.
"The bottom line is we're not charged on our usage, we're
charged on our taxes," Harris said.
Rocky Hill Town Manager Barbara Gilbert said she also would
like to see the billing formula changed for similar reasons.
But, she said, "[the
project] is something that has to be done. We have to comply.
We will have to pay because of our growth. Grand list growth
has a tremendous impact on that formula."
Before the plan can be implemented, it needs Department of Environmental
Protection approval, which could come as early as the end of
the month. If approved, the plan would go to a voter referendum
in 2006, requiring a simple majority from the voters in the member
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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