Old Lyme opts to share sewage infrastructure with private beach associations

Old Lyme — In its last meeting before August’s townwide sewer referendum, the Water Pollution Control Authority recently made another stride to further its sewer project in the Sound View neighborhood.

The authority has agreed to pursue a cost-sharing agreement with three private beach associations that are looking to install sewers in their neighborhoods as part of a separate ongoing sewer project.

The agreement, if finalized by the three beach associations, which sit adjacent to Sound View, will allow the WPCA's future ratepayers to share a pump station — planned to be located in the Sound View neighborhood — as well as a force main pipe, enabling all four entities to send their combined sewage through East Lyme to New London for treatment.

The move, according to WPCA chairman Rich Prendergast, would not only save future ratepayers money, avoiding the need to build and maintain separate pump stations, but also will better position the WPCA to “tie into” an already existing intermunicipal agreement drafted between the three beach associations and New London to have sewage treated there, potentially saving more money down the line.

Already further in their own sewer projects after the state mandated each to do so, the three beach associations — which include Old Colony Beach Club Association, Miami Beach Association and Old Lyme Shores Beach Association — already drafted their own intermunicipal agreements with New London in April 2018 and another last summer with East Lyme to send and treat sewage through those towns.

Prendergast said that in order for the WPCA to send its sewage through East Lyme for treatment, it, too, will need to either join the agreement or sign its own with New London.

Prendergast explained that tying in to the New London agreement potentially could bypass having to pay an approximate $1 million “tie-in” fee he said New London wants from the WPCA before treating its sewage.

Each of the three beach associations, as outlined in their agreements, will pay in to the shared maintenance and infrastructure costs needed to be a part of the larger sewer system in both New London and East Lyme. As part of the New London contract, the three associations have outlined to pay a $1.45 million "tie-in fee," covering a share of facility infrastructure, Prendergast explained, as well as treatment costs and 1.2 percent of annual treatment plant capital costs.

Outlined in the New London contract, the beach associations are allowed to send up to 120,000 gallons of sewage per day and have the right to purchase up to an additional 50,000 gallons per day, with added capital expense fees, should the WPCA like to join.

Prendergast said the money the WPCA would need to pay for its share of those costs, should it join the agreement, already has been calculated as part of the $7.44 million the town expects to bond for the sewer project, pending August’s referendum.

Meanwhile, the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen soon are expected to sign their own bonding resolutions needed to move forward with scheduling the sewer referendum, in which residents will vote whether to allow the town to bond $7.44 million for the project. Should taxpayers pass the referendum, only ratepayers using the sewer system will be responsible for paying back the $7.44 million. The referendum tentatively is scheduled for Aug. 13.

The Old Lyme WPCA is planning a public information and question-and-answer session to detail septic system use, the scope of the project area, costs and benefits of the system and a timeline of the project. It will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

m.biekert@theday.com

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