OLD LYME — One of the town’s chartered beach associations has declared the upcoming multimillion dollar sewer project economically unfeasible and is calling for the state’s consent order to be modified or revoked.
The Old Lyme Shores Beach Association is one of three beach communities in a cost-sharing agreement to build sewers that would send effluent from Old Lyme to New London in compliance with a 2012 consent order from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to implement a wastewater management plan.
In a Feb. 1 letter to officials of Old Colony Beach Club Association, Miami Beach Association and the Town of Old Lyme – the three partnering entities in the cost-sharing agreement – Bryan Even, president of Old Lyme Shores Beach Association, said his board of governors was unanimous in agreeing that “our association membership will not support continued participation in this project as it is currently structured” due to increasing costs and insufficient state and federal grant funding.
Even said his association has expended more than $1 million toward the design of the system as well as acquisition of land, easements, and legal fees. He said the project will require “tens of millions of dollars” to complete the design and construct the sewer system, plus future unfactored costs of operation and maintenance for the life of the project.
“Who, and how, will this be paid for? In short, major revisions to the Cost Sharing Agreement (“CSA”) are needed and required. Moreover, we believe that the CSA is incapable of being performed and, following discussions with DEEP that we believe should result in a modification or revocation of the existing Consent Order, the CSA may be terminated,” he wrote.
Even also questioned the necessity of the project, citing that water testing of Long Island Sound offshore from the association’s beach had failed to reveal significant pollutants.
“More than 85% of the OLSBA homeowners are seasonal residents, and cannot understand why such a complex and expensive system is necessary given their marginal contribution to the problem, if there is a problem.”
He said his board of governors believed a project of this scale should be a town initiative, “integrated into the existing town infrastructure and funded in the same manner as any other town-sponsored project.”
Old Lyme Shores Association did not support putting the project on “pause,” only to spend more money on “new RFP’s and consultants, costs which we believe will only make the Project less economically feasible.”
Even wrote that withdrawal from the existing alliance is one alternative his association is considering.
“We hope that you will continue to agree with our position that the project is not economically feasible and agree to approach DEEP collectively to seek a modification or rescission of the consent order. We should also collectively agree to pursue alternatives, especially new designs for septic systems. If not, the OLSBA is prepared to move forward on its own,” Even wrote.