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Infrastructure jamboree

Town tackles three water projects

BRATTLEBORO—The Selectboard approved three infrastructure projects — all water and sewer related — at the July 11 meeting.

The immediate costs are just over $60,000, but one of the motions the Board passed includes the town’s taking over operations at a state-owned wastewater pump station, which will cost the town money to run.

However, Town Manager Peter B. Elwell assured Board members they will recoup some of those expenses through revenue.

Welcome Center Pump Station

A few months ago, the wastewater pump station for the Interstate 91 Welcome Center in Guilford failed. This came as little surprise — the structure, built in 1995, had an expected 20-year lifespan.

Since then, town officials have worked with different state agencies and departments to develop an agreement for the town to take over the Welcome Center wastewater pump station. The Selectboard approved drawing up an agreement at the June 6 Board meeting, and municipal staff and attorneys with the state and the town have approved the agreement.

The state built the pump station to primarily serve the then-new Welcome Center, but the Algiers section of Guilford and the Delta Business Campus just over the Brattleboro town line were also hooked into the system.

Since then, Commonwealth Dairy, the yogurt maker located at the Delta campus, has greatly increased its demand on the water and sewer facility.

Thus, “the vast majority of the sewage that’s being pumped through [the] wastewater treatment system is coming from Brattleboro,” Elwell said.

The number of players “makes this a relatively more complicated process” for this transaction, Elwell said.

The Agency of Transportation, the Department of Buildings and Services, the Federal Highway Administration, the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and the Windham County Economic Development Program are all involved.

According to information Elwell provided the Selectboard, “the state is covering the full cost” of renovating the pump station, and the Economic Development Program is contributing $100,000 in Entergy funding for the facility’s expansion to help it meet future economic development needs.

Once the project engineer confirms the work is complete and according to specifications, and the town receives complete reimbursement from the two state agencies for all project costs, then the town will take ownership of the pump station, Elwell said.

At that time, the state will also grant the town an easement to operate the facility on state property.

This isn’t an entirely new arrangement, Elwell said. “We have operated the pump station from the beginning, but as a contractor to the state, [and] we’ve always been reimbursed” for operating expenses, he told Selectboard members.

Selectboard member John Allen asked how long the new pump station is expected to last. Elwell said 20 years, and “that’s a reasonable expectation” for that type of system.

Allen pointed out that operating the pump station will constitute a new expense for the town. Elwell assured him the town will gain revenue from processing the 250,000 gallons of wastewater per day Commonwealth Dairy is sending into the system.

The reason for this ownership change is that when built, “the facility primarily would serve the Welcome Center, Algiers, and a small section of Brattleboro,” Elwell said. “Now, the overwhelming majority of what passes through this pump station is coming from Brattleboro.”

Wastewater conveyor work

The Selectboard awarded a $29,882.95 contract to the Custom Conveyor Corporation to rebuild the headworks conveyor at the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

As Elwell explained, the conveyor removes grit and solid debris as wastewater comes into the facility “so [the water] can continue on through the process of treatment at the plant."

The life expectancy of the conveyor is about four years before heavy maintenance is needed, and this conveyor has been in operation for more than four years.

It has handled approximately 2.5 billion gallons of wastewater in that time, Elwell said.

In addition to approving the rebuild, Department of Public Works staff also asked the Selectboard to allow the contractor to make some low-cost modifications to the conveyor to extend its lifespan.

This equipment “takes a beating,” Elwell said.

Western Avenue leak

The Selectboard passed a motion approving a $32,000 contract with the Dufresne Group for engineering services on the Western Avenue water main leak.

Elwell reminded Selectboard members they have $460,000 on the fiscal year utilities capital budget, and around 10 percent of that is for engineering.

Dufresne will oversee the bidding and construction phases of the project, which will accomplish what Elwell calls “an urgent replacement” of the water main.

“If you look [to the right] as you’re heading north-bound [on I-91] toward town, you can see the water that’s flowing down the abutment,” Elwell said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #417 (Wednesday, July 19, 2017). This story appeared on page 0.

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