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Mattabassett Project Moving Forward

The board has voted to have bids drawn up for the project.

The Mattabassett District Board of Directors is moving forward with plans for a $100 million upgrade to its Cromwell sewer plant and has asked engineers for the project to draft bid documents for the work.

The board on Monday night authorized the design engineers to begin the process of identifying a general contractor/construction manager to complete the complicated project.

Specifically, the board will send a letter to its engineering company, Wright-Pierce of Middletown, which designed the upgrade project, to prepare bid documents aimed at identifying and ultimately selecting the general contractor/construction management firm that will do the actual work.

“This is a significant step towards getting the upgrade under way,” said William P. Candelori, the board’s chairman. “The upgrade will help decrease the amount of nitrogen discharging into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. However, it will also allow us to treat all of Middletown’s wastewater. Without the upgrade, it’s doubtful that we’d have the capacity to be able to accommodate Middletown.”

The $100 million project will be paid through a $22.9 million grant from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Clean Water Fund, along with a low-interest loan of 2 percent from the DEEP for the remainder of the cost. The loan will be payable over 20 years. Sewer rates for the Mattabassett constituent towns of New Britain, Berlin and Cromwell will be increased to pay for the loan, but the impact of those increases will be softened, district officials said, by the inclusion of Middletown as another constituent community.

The Mattabassett board, however, has not yet approved the proposal to include Middletown as a member. Many on the board, in fact, have expressed frustration and anger over a state-negotiated agreement allowing Middletown to join, arguing that the agreement goes to in far in dictating the board’s membership and leadership.

The planned upgrade to the Mattabassett plant is needed, in part, to reduce the amount of nitrogen the plant releases in its treated wastewater. Planning on the project started nearly 10 years ago under new nitrogen standards issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DEEP for Long Island Sound. The target date for full compliance with the new standards mandated by EPA and DEEP is 2014.

The Mattabassett District currently processes wastewater from New Britain, Berlin, Cromwell, as well as parts or all of the contiguous communities of Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill and Farmington. The plant discharges clean water into the nearby Connecticut River. In operation since 1968, the facility treats an average of 15 to 20 million gallons of wastewater per day, with a peak flow in excess of 75 million gallons per day.

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