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Since the water main extension project to Mulberry Point, Tuttles Point, and Long Cove was approved in 2017, progress has been underway to design and eventually construct the water main. However, at the Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting on June 4, the board was made aware that the design and permitting phase of the project is going to be a bit more costly than originally anticipated.
Health Director Dennis Johnson came before the board asking for an amendment to the contract with engineering and construction management team Wright-Pierce for $49,200. Johnson said the amendment is to cover additional design and Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) permitting costs. The water main extension is expected to stretch over 2.4 miles and cost approximately $3.4 million, which includes about $300,000 in a contingency fund, which will be tapped to cover the unanticipated cost.
While the addition required town approval, the project will be paid by homeowners receiving water service through the project and by the Connecticut Water Company.
Johnson said the additional costs will be rolled into the homeowner assessments and don’t even approach exceeding the $300,000 contingency built into the project. While Johnson said some of the design and permitting tasks have been tedious, they are necessary to keep the project moving forward.
“There are a couple areas in which additional design was required,” he said. “There was a water main crossing on the Long Cove Creek which goes on Daniel Avenue and the initial intent was to cross the water main adjacent to an existing bulkhead, but it was determined that the bulkhead wasn’t really stable as a foundation so they had to put the water main crossing further out into the DEEP jurisdictional zone.”
Entering the DEEP jurisdictional zone required additional permitting, as did crossing a stream that is in an easement area. Johnson said the team had to do an alternative construction analysis to see if there was a better way to cross the stream rather than just laying pipe across it.
“They had to do an alternative analysis involving soil borings and ecological surveys and the determined that the most cost effective way to cross this stream was to just wait for it to dry up and then dig a trench and then lay the pipe as opposed to boring underneath,” he said. “So that was additional design analysis, additional environmental analysis, and an added cost to the design of the project.”
While the town doesn’t bear the additional costs, selectmen asked Johnson if he thought there would be any more permitting issues as this project goes forward.
“I can’t foresee any,” he said. “I think we have acquired every permit DEEP has at this point.”
The water main extension project was approved at referendum on May 31, 2017, with 1,004 “Yes” votes to 122 “No” votes. Prior to the referendum, the town announced that, of the 145 homes in the area that could be served by the water main—which includes Mulberry Point, Tuttles Point, and Long Cove—83 percent of residents signed formal commitment letters to connect with the main, well exceeding the necessary commitment level and pushing the project forward.
Residents in the service area will pay all expenses for the project, including initial soft costs. In January, the town signed a service agreement with the Connecticut Water Company (CWC) that outlined the financial rate of contribution from CWC. The rate of contribution from CWC is dependent upon the percentage of the 145 homeowners in the area who commit to the project. With an 83 percent commitment rate demonstrated by residents who sent the water company signed commitment letters and financial deposits, CWC will contribute $1.5 million.
After CWC’s contribution, the remaining cost of the project, $1.9 million, will not be distributed town-wide, but will be distributed among homeowners who are direct beneficiaries of the water main extension. The town has applied for Drinking Water Revolving Funds, a low-interest loan from the State of Connecticut that in 2012 became available for the project, contingent upon a successful referendum. With the 83 percent contribution rate, Attorney Norb Church said each household will likely be assessed for approximately $13,161, which can be paid back over 20 years at a two percent interest rate.
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