WALLINGFORD — System upgrades to town water and sewer plants are moving forward after a couple of authorizations by the Town Council last week.
Councilors approved a $748,244 bid waiver for technology upgrades to the Pistapaug Pond water treatment plant, allowing the town to continue working with the company that acquired the firm that initially installed supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, in 1993.
Neil Amwake, town Water and Sewer Division general manager, said the department plans to “repair, replace and upgrade” the SCADA system, which allows staff to control plant operations remotely and gather data.
“We currently have engaged with a design consultant,” Amwake said to the council at a meeting last week, “and as we were going through the design specifications, as well as the design drawings, we kind of came to a fork in the road.”
That “fork” was a decision on which company to hire for the upgrade. Amwake said the town could contract with Emerson, which in 2006 purchased Bristol Babcock, the company that installed the SCADA system when the plant was built. Contracting with Emerson would require converting software to match the company’s current programming.
Switching to a nonproprietary, open architecture computer system, Amwake said, would mean “starting from scratch” and could cost more than $1.2 million.
“When there is a significant price difference between the two systems that will be driven down to our ratepayers, we feel it’s prudent to ask (for a bid waiver),” he said. The council approved the waiver unanimously, with Councilor Craig Fishbein absent.
The council also authorized the mayor to enter into contracts with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for financing of the town’s wastewater pollution control facility plan, including the state-mandated phosphorus removal upgrade to the plant on John Street.
Several towns, including Wallingford, are required by DEEP to perform upgrades to their wastewater plants to improve phosphorus removal systems.
Phosphorus is considered an environmental hazard because it causes algae bloom, which depletes oxygen in water bodies and poses a threat to wildlife, according to DEEP.
The new stricter limits take effect April 1, 2022.
The first phase of the project is estimated to cost $55.7 million. The town is eligible for state funding to cover about $23 million and a low-interest, 20-year loan to cover the rest.
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. estimates sewer rates would increase $140 to $150 for the average residential customer, and a large business could see a $4,000 increase.
The second phase, estimated to cost $30.8 million, will upgrade other equipment and processes.
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