PLAINVILLE - Town leaders and state officials gathered at the Water Pollution Control Facility Tuesday for a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the beginning of mandated upgrades that will reduce phosphorus levels.
The ceremony was attended by state Rep. William Petit Jr., Assistant Town Manager Shirley Osle, Town Councilors Kathy Pugliese and Rosemary Morante, and other town staff.
Each congratulated those who had worked to make the project run as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible.
Osle said it was an “exciting day” for the city.
“Plainville always stays on top of things and does what we are supposed to,” she said. “We have managed to save a lot of money by getting the maximum amount of funding possible. We have always had a good relationship with DEEP.”
Petit said that it is “wonderful” that Plainville is ahead of the curve on combating pollution. He noted that he serves on the Public Health Committee and that science has made major strides in the area of clean water over the past 120 years.
“Five years ago, Kathy Pugliese and my predecessor, Betty Boukus, got the ball rolling on this and this moment is testament to their hard work,” he said.
Pugliese said that she and Boukus spoke at Hartford trying to secure as large a grant as possible for the project. Their efforts ultimately paid off.
“I want to thank Joe Alosso, superintendent of the Water Pollution Control Facility, and everyone else who has been working hard to make sure that we meet the rigid standards put into place by the state and federal regulators,” she said.
Denise Ruzicka, director of water planning and management with DEEP, also spoke. She said Plainville is the third community to award a contract for the phosphorus reduction improvements.
“Plainville has been very diligent in working to move this project forward and we appreciate your efforts,” she said. “You are ahead of the curve.”
Alosso thanked Plainville residents for their “unwavering support” of the upgrades to the facility at town referendums.
“We can be proud that this project will provide clean waterways for all to enjoy,” he said. “This is actually the second recent upgrade to our facility. The last was to remove nitrogen, which can cause large algae blooms. This project is moving forward under budget and on schedule. We are doing all that we can to preserve the aquatic life that calls Connecticut home.”
After delivering their remarks, the town officials donned hardhats and posed, digging into a pile of dirt with golden shovels, for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
Paul Morgan, project manager with Tighe & Bond, said that the upgrade is being done to comply with new regulations from DEEP, to improve the facility’s resiliency and to upgrade from aging equipment that had exceeded its useful life.
DEEP requires a 90 percent reduction in phosphorus levels by July 10, 2019, at water pollution control facilities in 11 communities, including Plainville. Other cities and towns received lesser reduction requirements.
“We are in compliance with their schedule and well on our way to meeting that deadline,” said Morgan. “They are calling for a reduction in phosphorus because it affects fresh water systems, such as the Pequabuck River. Phosphorus is not a contaminant, but a nutriment, and too much phosphorus causes an excess of plant growth that upsets the ecological balance.”
The total cost for the upgrades is $15,140,000. But because Plainville was prompt in applying for loans to begin upgrades, Morgan said, the town is benefiting from a 41 percent grant, the largest offered.
A low-interest, 2 percent, loan will cover the remaining $8,879,110.
Morgan said the improvements will include more cost-effective technology, such as a higher capacity sludge processing system. The disinfection system will be relocated to 3 feet above 100-year flood levels.
The work will take 27 months to complete, according to Tighe & Bond’s projections, and is expected to finish around Oct. 15, 2020.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.