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Bridgewater getting $800,000 in federal money for wastewater treatment plant

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 10/29/2020 10:18:58 PM
Modified: 10/29/2020 10:20:08 PM

BRIDGEWATER — The town of Bridgewater is receiving federal funding to help it avoid a potentially costly problem.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week said it has authorized $789,000 in loans and grants to Bridgewater so the town can upgrade its aging wastewater treatment plant, the breakdown of which would trigger daily financial fines imposed by the state under the facility’s operating permit.

“The system is providing very good wastewater treatment, but there have been issues with deferred maintenance,” said Craig Jewett, senior project engineer with Otter Creek Engineering in Rutland, who is overseeing the wastewater treatment project on behalf of the town. “But the pumping station has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced before it becomes catastrophic.”

Bridgewater’s wastewater facility is located along the Ottauquechee River and across the town line in Woodstock (the border between the two towns transects the historic Bridgewater Mill building) and serves 69 connections along the Route 4 corridor in the center of the village.

The Bridgewater Mill, a condominium association building with four owners — including furniture maker ShackletonThomas — is the sewer plant’s biggest user, accounting for about 25% of its billed use. The building also contains more than a dozen sub-lease commercial tenants.

A multiyear dispute between the mill’s condo association mill over unpaid condominium fees from one of its members has in turn led the association to fall behind in its sewer bill. Although the association has periodically made payments on its back sewer bill, it is currently $16,000 in arrears, according to town treasurer Vicky Young.

Jewett said the $789,000 in federal aid to Bridgewater is divided between a $448,000 loan and a $331,000 grant. In 2019, Bridgewater residents approved an $800,000 bond at Town Meeting to finance the project.

When it was designed in the 1970s, Jewett said, the facility was rated at a 40,000-gallon daily capacity but subsequently, as environmental regulations became more strict, daily capacity has been reduced to 15,000 gallons per day.

But that lower limit still exceeds demand, according to Jewett.

“Average flow is more like 10,000 to 11,000 gallons per day,” he said.

Jewett said the project, which will include building a new pump and repairing the slate roof, is currently in the design phase with construction scheduled to begin early in 2021 and completion expected “prior to the end of the next construction season.”

No interruption in operation is expected.

The USDA funding is part of $891 million in federal spending to upgrade rural drinking water and wastewater systems in 43 states, the USDA said.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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