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Sewer Department Facing $3.5-Million in Repair Costs

This chart shows how heavy rainfall causes flow to the sewage treatment plant to "spike" above "normal" levels. Tata & Howard, Inc. chart







For a 26-year old facility that operates around the clock, 365 days a year, the town's wastewater treatment plant is in great shape and the quality of its discharged water meets or exceeds all of its permits. But, the plant needs about $1 million in preventive maintenance to prolong its life by another two decades, sewage systems pumping stations located throughout the town need about $1.7 million in upgrades and maintenance, and a $750,000 sludge storage/pumping facility should be built at the treatment plant.

These were the costs associated with a Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP) presented to the Board of Sewer Commissioners on April 24 by its consulting engineers, Tata & Howard, Inc. of Marlborough. "It's your roadmap to the future," said Jack O'Connell, senior vice president at the engineering firm. The CWMP answers the question, "What do we do to make the plant last another 20 years?" he said.

O'Connell noted that he first attended a meeting in the same room in Town Hall in 1975 – 37 years ago – to begin the planning process to build the treatment plant. Sewer Superintendent John Mainini said the plant came on line in June, 1986 – 26 years ago next month.

A community's CWMP typically looks at how it will extend its sewage system to underserved parts of town, but most of Milford already has service, O'Connell said. So, Milford's plan focused on three main areas: removing groundwater inflow and infiltration ("I and I"), the pumping stations, and the treatment plant, he said. His firm studied five years of data in making its recommendations, O'Connell added.

One of the largest single cost items recommended was to build separate sludge storage/pumping facility at the treatment plant. The sludge is basically the solid material left over after treating sewage, and used to be placed in an adjacent landfill until that reached capacity, O'Connell explained. The Sewer Department now stores it in various sections of the treatment plant and pays to have it trucked away, he said.

By installing equipment to reduce the water content in the sludge by half – from six percent to three percent – the Sewer Department will save money on hauling costs and the estimated $750,000 cost will be paid back by those savings within several years, O'Connell said.

The treatment plant has a "sanitary base flow" of 2.3 million gallons per day, but the actual daily flow has fluctuated between 4.8 million gallons per day in 2005 to 4.1 million gallons per day in 2010. The amount spikes each time there is heavy rainfall, indicating that "I and I" represents "half the flow that comes into the plant," O'Connell explained. "I think it's primarily due to sump pumps," he added.

The Sewer Department has been aggressively trying to get residents who have basement sump pumps illegally connected to the sewer system to re-connect them to the town's stormwater system. "There's still a lot of work to be done to completely get rid of their inflow," O'Connell said.

Both Mainini and O'Connell pointed to specific remedial work over the past several years – namely, removing illegal "direct connections" to the sewer system and relining sewer mains to reduce "I and I" – actions which they showed reduced the "spiking" effect of heavy rainfall. Tata and Howard's charts showed the "spikes flattening out" over time as more and more remedial work was completed, O'Connell said.

Looking 20 years out – to the year 2030 – O'Connell projected that the treatment plant will be handling an average daily flow of 4.4 million gallons a day, which is just above its 4.3 million gallons-a-day treatment capacity. The only way to process that amount is to reduce "I and I," he added.

The only thing that would change that 20-year projection would be "a real major development" that adds "in excess of a half a million gallons a day," O'Connell added, giving a major apartment complex, industrial facility or casino as examples. In that case, the plant would have to be expanded at a projected cost of $22.5 million, the engineer said.

In other business at its April 24 meeting, the sewer board approved new connections at 2 Naples St. and 2 Mitchell Road.




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