By LINDSAY CAREY
The Sewer Committee has opened bids for the $5 million sludge thickening and odor control project for the Southington Water Pollution Control Facility, which was approved by voters through a referendum question on the November ballot.
“I take it very seriously, the sewer committee, because there is so much money that we have been asking the town for,” said Town Councilor Cheryl Lounsbury at the Nov. 24 Town Council meeting.
Lounsbury took it upon herself to address some of the concerns that were raised by residents as well as Town Councilor John Barry at the previous Town Council meeting regarding the ongoing sewage issues in town.
One of the concerns was the sewer line on Queen Street. As the street continues to develop, a resident posed questioned if the sewer line on Queen Street was large enough to take on future expansion. Lounsbury said the Sewer Committee is using a software system to monitor all the major sewer lines and confirmed the Queen Street and West Queen Street sewer line is capable of handling its current and future flows.
Town Councilor Barry suggested possibly regionalizing with another town, which was a successful move for the town’s the Health Department.
“There’s a lot of different shared services that we could do through regionalization, but I think its going to be a very lengthy discussion,” said Barry. “It might be something that’s beneficial down the line for not only our community, but for other communities, because costs are going to continue to escalate to our neighbors that have sewer plants, for us, so it may be a cost savings for a lot of different parties.”
The Sewer Committee is open to further discussion and ideas regarding regionalization, however, Lounsbury explained she just didn’t see how it was possible.
“In our previous study and then restudy of the study, what we found is that our surrounding communities are not capable of regionalizing with us,” said Lounsbury of towns like Cheshire, Plainville, New Britain, and Meriden.
Lounsbury also shared at the Town Council meet ing that regionalization could cause the town to lose control of the rates and there have already been an increase in rates.
“The reason we’ve had these rate increases is because we have not really taken care of our sewer along the way,” said Lounsbury. She confirmed the last couple of town councils have ignored the sewer issues or did not address them head on.
Lounsbury said the request for the sewer treatment plant in the budget for the year of 2009 and 2010 was $1 million for the digesters. However, the sewer budget was cut and only $300,000 was spent on the plant that year.
This resulted in the digesters going down in 2010, which caused the odor control issues the town has now been dealing with for the last couple of years. Lounsbury said the town has been patching up issues as they arise, but until now has not fully addressed the issue. She explained this is why the cost is so steep now to upgrade the sewer system to where it should be.
“We’re trying to do this right, so we can stabilize our sewer expenses and have a state of the art sewer system,” said Lounsbury at the Town Council meeting.
Lounsbury openly invited Barry to join a Sewer Committee meeting to share his ideas and thoughts.
“I think it’s very beneficial to our community that Mrs. Lounsbury is open-minded for further discussions,” said Barry. “That’s how things change, through open-mindedness and ability to look at different things.”