Montville High water pipeline estimated to cost $6.8 million

Montville - An environmental consulting firm charged with exploring the possibility of building a new pipeline to bring water to Montville High School estimates that the project would cost the town $6.8 million.

In a presentation to the Town Council during a special meeting Monday, Sarah Cwikla, project director for Middletown-based GHD Consulting, said connection fees and anticipated tax revenue from new businesses that could claim space along the water line would offset the cost. Cwikla specifically stated that the town could see additional tax revenue of up to about $3 million a year.

"That's a possibility, not a guarantee," she said.

The pipeline has been proposed to bring water to Montville High School, which has relied on bottled water for drinking and cooking since fall of 2012, when a contractor conducting a routine analysis of the school's well water and found high levels of manganese in the water.

Water Pollution Control Authority Administrator Brian Lynch said during Monday's meeting that Leonard J. Tyl Middle School also faced water problems, in the middle school's case due to high sodium content.

Cwikla said that given the schools' proximity to each other, the middle school could also benefit from the pipeline. She also told counselors that the pipeline would bring down the cost of homeowners' insurance for residents along the line by allowing for the installation of fire hydrants, increasing fire safety in the area.

The route of the proposed pipeline would start somewhere near the intersection of Routes 163 and 32, and could either continue mostly along Route 163 or follow town roads, Lynch said last month.

The council authorized the WPCA on Monday to begin educating residents about the proposed pipeline.

Cwikla suggested funding the pipeline with town bonds. She said that the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection could theoretically fund the project, but that DEEP funding would prohibit the town from pursuing the project in a way that would benefit economic development.

Councilor Tim May said after the presentation that he hoped the proposed pipeline would be on the ballot as a referendum in the November elections.

Cwikla said that the Department of Public Health will at some point expect the town to fix the high school's water problem, but Lynch said the state has not issued a specific time frame.

t.townsend@theday.com

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