Old Lyme officials want feasibility study on possible town septic system

Old Lyme - Town officials are proposing to conduct a feasibility study to determine whether a community septic system would be a viable solution for wastewater treatment in town.

The Board of Selectmen has approved hiring the Cheshire engineering firm of Woodard & Curran to conduct the study, based on a recommendation from the town's Wastewater Management Task Force.

If funding for the approximately $175,000 study is approved by town vote, the town would then contract with the firm to begin the study, which would include soil testing of four potential sites for a community septic system, said Kurt Zemba, the chairman of the Wastewater Management Task Force.

Two beach communities - the Old Lyme Shores Beach Association and Old Colony Beach Club Association - are under consent orders from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to connect to sewers. Environmental studies, conducted at request of the associations, showed ground and water pollution from their individual on-site septic tanks.

The town, which has a "sewer avoidance" policy, formed a task force to oversee the process of determining the viability of a community septic system.

The cost of the study was announced Monday at a special meeting between the task force and the Board of Selectmen. The funds, except the application costs of about $18,000, would be eligible for 55 percent Clean Water Fund reimbursement, said First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Sites under consideration for the system include an undeveloped property on both Farm Road and another undeveloped property near White Sands Beach, as well as Blackhall Golf Course and Cherrystone's driving range, Zemba said.

Officials are beginning preliminary talks with the property owners to see if they would be amenable to testing the sites in conjunction with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to see if a system could be developed there, according to Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, and state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, R-23rd District, are supporting a bill on behalf of the town, according to Reemsnyder, that would give water pollution control authorities jurisdiction over septic systems on private property.

The town will hold public hearings at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 25 at Town Hall and 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 30, also at Town Hall, on the proposed study.

The town will hold a meeting to vote on the funding on April 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Middle School Auditorium. The exact amount for the study will be determined later this week, Reemsnyder said.

k.drelich@theday.com

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