Norwich receives state funding for sewer plant upgrade

Norwich — The state Bond Commission Friday approved a combination of grants and loans to cover at least part of the city’s $96 million sewer plant upgrade project that would improve water quality and allow the sewer system to expand into surrounding towns.

It was unclear Friday exactly how much Norwich Public Utilities will receive, but Michael LaLima, wastewater integrity manager for NPU, said he submitted grant and loan requests for the entire $96 million project cost. LaLima said Friday he has not yet heard from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on the extent of the funding.

Malloy announced that the Bond Commission approved $277 million through the Connecticut Clean Water Fund for local and regional wastewater treatment projects in Norwich, Hartford, Rocky Hill, Middletown, New Haven, and Bristol. The Norwich funding is for denitrification, which comprises about 20 percent of the overall sewer upgrade project, LaLima said.

Malloy touted the state’s commitment to cleaning the state’s waterways and Long Island Sound with the funding approvals.

“As a result of the state’s strong financial support for municipal wastewater treatment projects, Connecticut’s rivers and streams and Long Island Sound are cleaner and more appealing than ever,” Malloy said in a press release. “We want to build on our historic commitment to clean water with a strong new round of funding for these projects, which will improve our environment and enhance our communities while putting our citizens to work designing and constructing these critical facilities.”

Overall, the projects were projected to generate 5,700 jobs.

State DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said Norwich would receive 30 percent grants and 70 percent low-interest 2 percent loans on portions of the project directly related to removing nitrogen and nitrogen compounds from the sewage treatment system. NPU would receive a 20 percent grant, 80 percent loan on other portions of the project.

LaLima said overall, the Norwich project would qualify for a funding split of 23 percent grant, 77 percent loan if the entire $96 million project is funded.

NPU hopes to put the project out to bid this summer and start construction by the end of this calendar year on the three-year project, LaLima said.

NPU officials have been meeting with representatives from several surrounding towns, including Preston, Bozrah, Franklin and Sprague to discuss the possibility of extending the city sewers into those towns to bring economic development opportunities to the region.

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and also Sprague first selectwoman, said she will try to confirm on Monday whether NPU received approval for the entire $96 million project. Osten has been leading negotiations for the inter-town agreements that would be needed to extend Norwich’s sewer system into the surrounding towns.

“I have been working to secure bonding for the Norwich treatment plant since I was elected, not only for Norwich but for surrounding communities as well,” Osten said Friday. “One of the biggest drivers of economic development is access to sewers. It's absolutely essential to economic development. And we need to increase Norwich’s capacity to treat all that wastewater.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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