The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 27, 2010

BOH moves on sewer connections

The Carlisle Board of Health (BOH) continues to have an interest in increasing utilization of the wastewater treatment plant at the Carlisle School. With the help of engineer Steve Pedersen, of Weston & Sampson Consultants, the board is re-submitting an application for a state-funded low-interest loan to finance a Town Center sewer project. “We’re thinking of extending sewer lines to the underused treatment plant,” explained BOH Chair Jeff Brem. The plan, he said, is to hook up nearby buildings (such as Carlisle Village Court, the elderly housing on Church Street and the Gleason Library) to the wastewater treatment facility at the Carlisle School. Pedersen estimated the cost of the construction would be approximately $500,000. The town presently has no public sewer system.

The wastewater treatment plant was completed in 2006 and has significant unused capacity. In addition, adjustments are needed each summer when school is not in session and the wastewater flow is reduced. According to Carlisle School Facilities Manager David Flannery the current operating cost, which is part of the school budget, is $70,000. “We currently flow between 3,000 and 3,500 gallons per day [during the school year],” explained Flannery. “The plant has a capacity to process 13,500 gallons a day. As our school population increases so would our flow, perhaps to as high as 5,000 gallons a day.”

Contacted after the meeting, BOH Agent Linda Fantasia explained that the goal is to provide “some additional flows to the treatment plant, starting with municipal buildings which might benefit.” She said that the board has mentioned perhaps connecting the sewer system to the Town Hall, Fire Station or Police Station, but is first focusing on the library and Carlisle Village Court. A future “phase 2” might include offering sewer connections to Town Center residences or businesses, she said. However there were no plans to offer that in the initial design.

The BOH invited Pedersen to their August 10 meeting to discuss how to proceed with applying for the state loan. Weston & Sampson is already involved with the wastewater treatment plant; the company supplies an engineer who supervises the plant. Brem explained that the BOH had submitted an application to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a 2% loan in 2009, “but they rejected our plan.” Pedersen said, “Many communities did not make the list for 2009.” He added that the BOH should have resubmitted their application for 2010. Recently DEP offered money to all who applied, he said, because many communities that were chosen were unable to proceed. “The first thing we recommend is to take that application and get it in this year. The model you have is already a very good starting point.”

Must be voted at Town Meeting

Pedersen offered, at no charge, to review the application, tweak it a bit, and resubmit it to the state by August 31. The board will meet again on August 30 to review the application. At the request of board member Cathy Galligan, a copy of the updated application will be sent to members by August 25. Housing Authority Chair Alan Lehotsky noted that the application has to be submitted by the end of August, but can be updated through December.

If approved by the state, the town must decide whether to accept the loan by June 30 of the following year, Pedersen explained. He asked, “Will you be ready if you do make the list?” He said the project would have to be voted by the Town Meeting next spring. Fantasia said, “We should plan to visit with the Selectmen, probably in September.”

What to connect?

Pedersen suggested the committee’s next step after submitting the application would be to do “some small scale planning” on which properties would get the best benefit by connecting to the wastewater treatment facility. The study would look at a phased expansion, he said. “We’d start with a couple of municipal buildings. The elderly housing and the library are the closest.” He said that the study would help them determine how much money would be needed to do the project, “You need to know what kind of system will be needed.” Brem suggested the study look “into the current cost” of the wastewater system. Pedersen suggested it was advantageous to add facilities that have usage during the summer. “The DEP likes to see cost-benefit analysis and it is needed for Town Meeting,” Pedersen added.

The planning costs would be around $5,000 to $10,000, Pederson said. “How does a community raise funds to do a study?” asked Brem. “The Housing Trust would be willing to chip in some bucks for that,” said Lehotsky. “It ties in with our plan to expand Village Court.” Fantasia suggested money was available “from the health department well inspections.” Carl Cline, Property Manager of Village Court, expressed interest in the project.

A design plan would have to be created by October of 2011 and submitted to the state for approval. Pedersen estimates the cost of the design would be approximately $20,000 to $30,000. If all went smoothly, construction could begin in June of 2012.

Sewer commission may be needed

Contacted later, Brem said he envisions a new Sewer Commission, which will take over the planning of the project during the time between the design and the construction of the new sewer lines. A Sewer Commission is a public body and has specific roles and responsibilities governed by state law.

Loan details

Contacted later, Pedersen explained the Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan process. “The town has to authorize to expend the money before the state awards the loan,” he said. When paying bills, he said, the town can either request incremental loan distributions for construction costs, or can submit construction bills directly to the state for payment. The advantage of the program, said Pedersen, is the low interest loan of 2%. “Most bonding interest rates are 4% or 5%,” he said. The town would typically be able to repay the construction loan and interest over 20 years, according to Fantasia.

According to the DEP website, the loan program offers a 2% financial assistance program “for projects that improve or protect wastewater/nonpoint infrastructure and planning.” Funds can be used for planning, construction and construction management costs. A community in dire need of a sewer repair would be ranked higher than Carlisle, Pedersen said. He suggested that the BOH keep resubmitting the application each year. “The year you are going to make it is the year they reach out to everybody.”

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