Well Project Added To Capital Plan For This Year
The Board of Selectmen approved adding $975,000 to the town’s Capital Improvement Plan for 2023-24 for a well project during a September 5 meeting.
The project, which would normally be paid for or bonded by the Water and Sewer Authority, was originally part of a sewer extension paid for by American Rescue Plan funds. However, with the increasing construction costs, Public Works Director Fred Hurley said the refurbishment of well #8 could no longer be covered under the original grant.
Additionally, the WSA agreed that the ARP-funded project could not create any “additional benefit assessment” to users, so the additional funding for the well could not be added.
“The WSA usually handles things on their own,” said Hurley. “But this year we got caught flat-footed.”
The cost, like all CIP projects, will be bonded.
Additionally, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said the well has use to both the town and state, and could receive an 80 percent reimbursement from the state, while the water line only served the Fairfield Hills campus and would receive no reimbursement, so it made sense to use ARP funds for that and not for the well.
Hurley said he expects the average user to only pay roughly $100 to $200 over the entire duration of the bonding, which is multiple years, since 80 percent of the cost will be reimbursed by the state.
The WSA does have a fund balance of roughly $1 million, but Hurley said it would be a bad idea to draw that down to almost nothing, as it would leave no money for emergencies.
Currently, well #7 helps handle water needs in the area of the Fairfield Hills campus, but there is no redundancy in the system. If something goes wrong with well #7, the system is no longer able to meet the water needs of the area.
The main part of the project is redoing the well head of well #8, which has not been in use recently. The project will add a generator, new screens, new pumps and associated electronics, a heater for the building, and an upgrade to the security system.
“It is the equivalent of putting a whole new well in,” said Hurley.
Selectman Ed Schierloh said he thought bringing well #8 back to use was a “good idea.”
Hurley said the town has a “real need and a real obligation” to have a redundancy in the system. He noted that the last time a well went out, the town had to bring in 68 tanker trucks to “fill bunkers at the top of the hill.”
“That wasn’t an ideal situation, and not something we want to do again,” said Hurley.
Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at email@example.com.