After weeks of speculation, the Town of Southington staff is proposing a new solution to the Miller Farm Road sewer pump issues, and the most recent proposal carries a much more palatable price tag. Despite projections of almost $1 million, current estimates project the total cost under $150,000.
The problem concerns a 29-house sub-division on Miller Farm Road that was built in 1997 by LePage Homes. At the time of construction, the developer installed a dry gravity system, so that residents could abandon their individual pumps when the time came to service the neighborhood with public sewers.
“The sewers constructed were a low pressure force main,” Town Manager Garry Brumback said. “As a result—because there was no package plant or pump station that was down there—they had to put individual pumps and grinders on all 29 homes.”
Original homeowners were aware of the costs for replacing the temporary pumps at a future date, but more than two decades have passed and the sewers were never installed.
Even though it was expected to be the homeowners’ responsibility to fix the problem, many of the homes have been sold during the last two decades. Many of the current owners weren’t even aware of the existing agreement when they purchased their property.
That’s why town officials were proposing to install a small sewer pump station to service the failing sewer lines in the neighborhood. The units have exhausted their lifeline and need replacing after 20 years of handling sewage, so town officials approached the Board of Finance at the July 26 meeting to discuss the funding.
After hearing the problem, and considering the plight of the homeowners that may have purchased homes without knowing about the issue, the BOF unanimously approved a bond ordinance that appropriated $930,000 for the installation of a sewer pump station.
Both the Town Council and Sewer Committee addressed the project in previous meetings, and needed BOF approval for the bond ordinance. The vote followed a public hearing. While no one spoke at the hearing, BOF members and town staff discussed the future of the project.
At the time of the July 26 meeting, the appropriation was the best of three potential solutions. The other two solutions estimated a cost of $1.3 million and $2.6 million. The $930,000 alternative was the only one that could be selected without a town referendum, and the two higher estimates would have had to be financed through a bond authorization paid for by the taxpayers.
Spending $930,000 seemed like a better option for the town, but Brumback told finance board members that even more options were in the works that would trim costs significantly.
Brumback told the BOF that engineers were still looking for better alternatives and a solution could be found that would cost less than $150,000. Assistant town engineer Jim Grappone and public works director Keith Hayden were also on board, looking for a viable option to benefit everyone. It turns out he was right.
The most recent plan would entail replacing the individual pumps at each of the 29 houses, a one-time replacement through a town bid. Each grinder pump costs $5,000, so the entire project will cost the town $145,000.
Officials said that, in light of the lower cost, the project can be financed through the Sewer Plant Sewer Maintenance Account operating budget without any additional funding.
Like the original ones, the new pumps will last about 20 years, but homeowners will be responsible for any future replacements.
“It’s a good compromise and doesn’t place the whole burden on the homeowners or the taxpayers,” said Brumback. “It’s an opportunity to be a win for everyone.”
The plan still requires approval by the Town Council. The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Weichsel Center assembly room.