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After years of planning, construction is nearing on a project that will transport water between East Lyme and New London.
Officials from the two communities are slated to hold a ground-breaking ceremony today for the project that will carry water from the Lake Konomoc Water Treatment Plant, New London's reservoir, along Routes 85 and 161 to East Lyme.
Under the plan expected to be completed in May 2014, East Lyme will send water to the reservoir from fall to mid-May and then New London will send the stored water back to the town for the summer months when the town's population and water demand increases.
The proposal calls for constructing a pump at Lake Konomoc to send water in a transmission main along Route 85 to Sachatello Industrial Drive in Montville where it will reach a 425,000-gallon holding tank, according to a map. Then the water will travel along a road to where it meets Route 161. From Route 161, it will connect to East Lyme's current transmission main. A new pump station in East Lyme will then send the water back to the reservoir.
As in past years, East Lyme has implemented summer water conservation measures, that are in effect weekly from Friday until Monday. They ban watering lawns, washing cars and sidewalks, filling or cleaning swimming pools and serving water at restaurants unless a customer requests a glass.
"It will solve a longstanding problem for the town and East Lyme utility customers in terms of satisfying the shortfall," said East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica about the interconnection.
He added the project will both guarantee water for regular supply and add a pipeline to bring water to town in an emergency.
From a regional perspective, he said the pipeline - as well as other pipelines in the region that could come to fruition - would enable area towns to transfer water to each other if needed and solve a water shortfall anticipated over the next 20 years.
East Lyme residents had approved $10.9 million for the project in 2011. There is funding available from the state's drinking water revolving fund and the project received $300,000 in federal funds. The low bid for the project came in less than expected $9.9 million.
Barry Weiner, the chairman of the New London Water and Water Pollution Control Authority, said the project will boost regionalization and assist a nearby town with its water needs.
"New London is very happy and proud to take the forefront in doing that," he said. "If one area does well, we all do."
Under the plan, New London will also receive water fees from East Lyme, he said. The project will also benefit the region by supporting tourism and ensuring security against potential droughts, he added.
George Kansas, a project manager at Tighe & Bond, the project engineer, said permits are being obtained from the state Department of Transportation and he anticipates construction will begin later this month. Construction on Routes 85 and 161 that impacts traffic will happen incrementally and will be announced, he said.
The project will proceed from the water tank in the Montville industrial park to Butlertown Road and then to Route 161. This avoids the intersection of the two routes, explained Formica.