Treatment plant passes referendum

By SHERIDAN CYR

STAFF WRITER

The town of Plainville will be moving forward with the $15,761,000 Water Pollution Control facility upgrade, a project mandated by the state to reduce phosphorus levels in discharge, following the Jan. 30 referendum passing in a 193-31 vote by residents.

The referendum’s passage ensures that the town will receive a $6.5 million state grant to use for the facility upgrade. The remainder of the cost will be financed with a 20-year loan at two percent interest.

Having too much phosphorus in surface waters causes an excessive growth of algae. As the algae dies, the decay process uses up oxygen in the water, which can cause fish kills.

“I am gratified that the referendum was successfully passed,” said Town Council chair Kathy Pugliese. “We don’t know exactly what would have happened if we don’t do these upgrades.”

She said it was very important that the town retain the $6.5 million state grant. If the referendum didn’t pass, the town would likely lose the grant, and simply be forced to do the project without any financial assistance from the state at a later time.

“The turnout for the vote was relatively low, but I think people of Plainville understand that this is something we need to do,” said Pugliese. “I understand the concern with the cost of the project, but nonetheless, we have these requirements from the state. I’m grateful that this has passed.”

The town will go to bid in the spring and expect construction to begin in the summer. Construction will likely be complete in the summer of 2020.

“I am very pleased with the referendum results with 86 percent of those voting in favor,” said Town Manager Robert Lee. “I believe the low turnout is somewhat due to our residents understanding that is project needed to be done per the order of the state.”

Lee said the project has been thoroughly discussed during Town Council meetings and was met with little opposition from residents.

The cost of the project relates to the design, construction, acquisition, installation, furnishing and equipping upgrades and related improvements to the facility, in order to reduce phosphorus concentrations in wastewater discharge to the Pequabuck River.

Gene Woolverton, left, and his wife Jean Woolverton visited the Plainville Fire Station last Tuesday to vote on the referendum regarding improvements on the town’s sewage treatment plant. (PHOTO by JANELLE MORELLI)