PLAINVILLE — The town has scaled back its sewer rate increase, which is tied to an overhaul of the waste water treatment facility.
"It's always nice to get a reduced amount, rather than going in the other direction," Town Council Chairperson Katherine Pugliese said during the Sept. 16 meeting, when the new figures were presented.
Town Manager Robert Lee said previous projections called for a 4.5 percent rate increase this year, which would have tapered off to 3 percent by 2026. However, a new staff analysis has reduced that to a flat 2 percent each year through 2026. If passed by the council in October, the change would be applied to the bills mailed out in November.
For a typical user paying $400 a year, the changes would constitute an $8 annual increase, $10 less than the original rate increase plan.
The original projections were based on a study of the financial impact of the $15 million upgrades to the water treatment facility on Cronk Road. After state grants are accounted for, the town’s share of the project is around $9 million, which is being financed through state bonds with a 2 percent interest rate. The study was done by the engineering firm Tighe and Bond.
The project is ahead of schedule and should be completed in April, about three months ahead of the original date. Equipment is being installed to remove phosphorus from wastewater before it’s discharged into the Pequabuck River, a change required to meet stricter state requirements that go into effect in 2022. High levels of phosphorus in water can lead to algae blooms, which harm other plants and aquatic wildlife.
The project involves the installation of a new 6,000-square-foot building for phosphorus removal equipment. Other work includes replacing the plant’s sludge processor, moving the ultraviolet treatment station and replacing pumps.