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Gung-ho on Sewers in Old Lyme Regardless of Cost

To the Editor:

Prior to elections, Selectman Griswold was interviewed by Ct Examiner about the sewer project and stated 

‘I think the thought was that, between the shared infrastructure, and the gravity sewer, in Sound View, property owners would have Clean Water subsidized funds at 2 percent for 20 years. 

I guess the town would have to fund the gap, but that’s going to be basically an arm wrestling between the people who evaluate the increase in value versus the cost. ‘

As Selectman Griswold expected, there certainly is a gap – a wide gap. Sewer bids received to date just for the three common elements – the force main- pump house and return – are approximately 20 mil.  That doesn’t include well abandonment, hookups, repaving, road closures, design and consulting fees, legal fees, etc. Total approved by referendum – 9.4 mil.  We hear the private beaches are now desperately trying to back out. If so, at minimum there is 10.4 mil gap just for the main elements and at least another mil for hookups, paving, administration, etc. We don’t know for sure how high the cost will be, and the WPCA isn’t saying. But the WPCA’s own attorneys have been advising for years that state statues will not allow them to overtax recipients for a sewer system – just can’t be done. So, who will pay if this sewer project actually goes forward? Old Lyme taxpayers. 

The WPCA could change direction even now.  DEEP recognizes engineered systems, even those designed for non-compliant lots, like those in Sound View.  The average Geomatrix engineered system costs somewhere between $20k and $30K, and some of the properties in SV already have these systems installed.  To install Geomatrix DEP approved systems in two hundred properties at 25K average for a total of $5 mil -well within budget. Well within reason.  But WPCA won’t consider this alternative.   

Nope – WPCA is holding steadfast – gung-ho on installing sewers in Old Lyme regardless of cost.  Very quietly they recently developed a draft sewer ordinance (no committee minutes), and that ordinance will be discussed at a public meeting April 12th.

If  you read between the lines, it’s clear the WPCA expects this system to be difficult and expensive to maintain, and prone to failure. The ordinance is initially directed at SV, Area B and Hawks Nest, but once passed, there is nothing preventing the inclusion of Halls Road, Rogers Lake, 4 Mile Road, and White Sands later on.  

If this ordinance passes, it will cost all of us. I can think of 10.4 million ways our tax dollars could be put to better use. 

Mary Daley
Old Lyme, CT

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