Mar. 3—BUZZARDS BAY — Development stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic could have an expensive trickle-down effect on sewer users in
Selectmen, in their role as the town's sewer commissioners, are tasked with finding ways to make up the money lost in anticipated sewer tie-ins — otherwise, those already tied into the system will see hikes in their sewer rates.
If a solution is not reached before summer, the close to 1,100 sewer users in
"How do we get ahead of, really, what I think is a rate disaster?"
A number of projects that were expected to come online this year have not been able to due to the pandemic. But the significant rate increases projected in
"We all know some things don't come to fruition the way they are projected," he said. "There has to be a repair process."
Sewer rates for 2020 were decreased from
"It has to be rethought, and we need to come up with a way to correct it," MacDonald said. "It is not just a sewer project, it is economic development."
The existing sewer system, which was constructed in the early 1990s, consists of collection and pumping facilities, and all wastewater is sent to the town of
The system's capacity is limited to 200,000 gallons per day by the town's intermunicipal agreement with
In response to strong commercial growth in the downtown area,
When the town voted four years ago to approve the project at
Potter said the town learned recently that the town's sewer usage by gallon is running under the system's capacity. It is closer to 110,000 out of the allotted 200,000, he said.
There was also a plan to connect to the sewage system approximately 80 homes currently on septic or cesspools that discharge into
The new treatment plant has estimated operating costs of
Apart from bringing more users onto the system, the only way to avoid increasing sewer rates would be to somehow share the cost with the rest of the town, Potter said.
There is about
After the town conducted an audit on its intermunicipal agreement with
"We need to work with (the town of
Whenever a project is built based on economic development, one has to take into account what happens in the real world, Schiavi said, and the town needs to be careful not to rely too much on projects in development to help sustain the fund.
"The whole deck of cards that was built can come crumbling down," Schiavi said. "We don't have a lot of escape access. What are we going to do if our assumptions don't work out?"
The town is in the midst of developing a comprehensive wastewater management plan with
The comprehensive plan will look at wastewater solutions for all of
"We don't want to be committed to any one specific project," Potter said. "We want to look at the entire town and look at what is best."
With a canal going through the middle of town,
While not a town project, the coalition's plan involves
"Regardless of where the studies take place ... the conversation has to be in the community," he said.
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