Sullivan Worries Over Erosion Near Sewer Line

County Commissioners to Ask Claremont to Help With Problem

Newport — Sullivan County Commissioners are worried about land erosion around a sewer line in Claremont, and want city officials to address the matter.

At a meeting last night, commissioners motioned to send a letter to Claremont officials requesting a review of eroded land near a portion of the sewer line that connects the Sullivan County Complex to the city’s municipal wastewater system. They said the erosion threatens the integrity of the pipe.

The land near the pipe, which crosses under the Sugar River in Claremont between Puckershire Road and Washington Street, has eroded 25 feet since 2002. Without land repairs it could compromise the entire sewer line, which stretches underground more than three miles from the county complex in Unity to Claremont, officials said.

“The concern is if the pipe gets exposed it has the potential to be broken,” said County Manager Greg Chanis.

As part of a 1998 legal agreement, if the line needs servicing, the length of pipe that sits in Unity is to be repaired by the county and the pipe that lays in Claremont is to be repaired by the city.

In the drafted letter, commissioners insinuated the Claremont Department of Public Works was aware of the erosion issue and commissioners inquired to see if the city has taken action, and if not, what action it will take to address the situation. Talk of setting up a meeting between the commissioners and the city took place last night, however, Sullivan commissioners were clear on which side they thought responsibility rests.

“It’s not our liability,” Commissioner Jeffrey Barrette said, in regards to mitigating the problem. “But we are way better off being in front of this than behind.”

Chanis also expressed concern.

“A liability on the part of the county; that in my mind doesn’t exist,” Chanis said, but added he was open to holding a meeting with the city to further discuss the issue and express potential ways to fund a solution.

County Conservation District Manager Lionel Chute confirmed the land near a “cleanout manhole” structure associated with the wastewater line was “vulnerable.”

“The next big weather event will pick up that (piece of land) right there,” he said, while pointing to the river’s edge on a map showing the land erosion. If that portion of land were to be washed away, the manhole structure — which the pipe runs through — would be affected.

Commissioners stated a majority of the erosion happened when the 2005 and 2006 floods came through and ate away at the riverbank. The manhole that houses the line now sits just 15 feet from the bank, in contrast to the 40 feet it once sat.

Along with the commission moving one-step future in dealing with the compromised sewer line, commissioners voted last night on a contractor to install cabling, parts and software for a wireless network that will eventually house an electronic medical records system.

The commission chose Competitive Computers, Inc., of Claremont, to complete the project using Aerohive access point technology, which is estimated to cost $64,434.

Both the Sullivan County Health Care Facility and the Sullivan County Correctional Facility will use the wireless network.

Last night, the commission also discussed the biomass project at the county complex — a wood-burning sustainable facility that will generate heat, hot water and some electricity for the health care and correctional facility. Facilities Director John Cressy said the biomass boiler was recently purchased for the facility, as well as a turbine, which is essential to the production of electricity, he said.

Cressy said Woodard and Curran, of Portland, Maine, the project’s design and instillation consultants, are in the process of fine-tuning the details of the project, including the facility’s layout.

“Progress is being made and I hope to hit the ground running in the spring time with a lot of stuff designed, if not everything,” Cressy said.

The project is estimated to save the county nearly $4.3 million in energy cost over a 25-year period.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at