$15 million in Norwich water, sewer repair projects to be considered Monday
Norwich ― A portion of sidewalk at Norwich Harbor has been closed for 11 months, blocked by an emergency sewer pipe installed after an old 20-inch diameter underwater sewer main from the downtown Rose Alley pumping station broke late last December.
Repairs to the subsurface sewer main is one of six sewer and water repair and maintenance projects totaling $15 million to be reviewed by the City Council Monday. The council will hold public hearings on the projects at the start of the 7:30 p.m. meeting at the Kelly Middle School auditorium. All projects would be funded by combination grants and low-interest 20-year loans.
Federal funding in the new Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, administered by the state Department of Health, provided NPU more grant money than usual for water and sewer projects. NPU would receive $6.5 million in grants for the combined projects and $8.5 million in 2% interest loans over 20 years.
The loans would be paid off by water and sewer ratepayers, NPU spokesman Chris Riley said. The projects also would not affect the 10% water revenue NPU turns over to the city each year in a revenue sharing provision in the city charter.
Three sewer main repairs are part of the spending package. Along with the $2.25-million repairs to the Rose Alley underwater main in the east branch of the Yantic River at Norwich Harbor, NPU proposed spending $6.75 million to repair two mains on the west bank of the harbor at South Thames Street and the Cove Street pumping station.
Larry Sullivan, NPU wastewater integrity manager, said utility officials are optimistic the Rose Alley pipe repair can be done for much less than the budgeted $2.25 million, because the existing line can be relined from within the pipe rather than rerouting the flow through new pipes. If approved by the City Council, that work will be done soon, “with a quick bid,” to allow the sidewalk to reopen, Sullivan said.
The South Thames Street/Cove Street repairs are more complicated, as the break is beneath the Central New England freight rail tracks and includes repairs to the sewer line that runs over the Yantic River, Sullivan said. The break was bypassed using a temporary PVC plastic main that now runs along the railroad tracks.
Repairs and maintenance to three water towers are on the agenda. The ground-based 80-foot-tall steel 750,000-gallon water tank at Richard Brown Drive in Montville and a similar 75-foot tall, 670,000-gallon tank in the Norwich business park both need aeration mixing systems to reduce stagnant water and the build-up of organic byproducts that interact with chlorine treatments, NPU officials said. The aeration systems are estimated to cost $1.8 million for each tank.
The tanks are oversized for water customers’ needs, because they also provide a water source for firefighting, Riley said. But that means the water becomes stagnant.
The 199-foot tall, 400,000-gallon Yantic Water tower would get $2.4 million in required maintenance and an exterior recoating in the package.
In addition to the water and sewer projects, NPU is asking the City Council to allow the city-owned utility to take out a $10 million line of credit to finance future capital projects. Riley said the City Council ordinance would only allow the utilities commission to take out loans in the future, rather than provide money immediately. By charter, NPU debt needs to be approved by both the utilities commission and the City Council, Riley said.
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