Wilton pump stations in need of repair, threatening Souhegan River

  • Wilton Town Hall (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/17/2021 12:23:57 PM

The Wilton Sewer Commission has secured further funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for a new project – repairing the control panels on the town’s pump stations, which prevent sewage from overflowing and potentially dumping into the Souhegan River.

During their meeting Monday, Select Board member Kermit Williams, who is also an elected member of the town’s water and sewer boards, spoke about the need for emergency repairs on one of the pump stations, and also advocated for replacing the same equipment on the town’s other station, as the original infrastructure is aging.

The town has two sewer pump stations, one on Intervale Road and one on Mill Street. Williams explained the stations work similar to a septic tank, in that they have large storage areas, and when they reach a certain level, the waste is pumped to the processing station in Milford. The station on Intervale Road, however, needs a repair to the control panel, which is the mechanism that tells the station when that level is too high.

“The panels were put into place when the sewer was built in the 1980s,” Williams said. “They’re failing.”

The Sewer Commission has already had to contract a septic truck to come and pump out the tank on the Intervale station, and will likely need to again, Williams said.

“The concern is that there is a very strong potential that those could fail to the point they overflow the tank,” Williams said. “It’s right next to the river, so that is going to go into the river, and at that point, the town has a big problem.”

Williams said the Sewer Commission would put the project out to bid, and did not yet have an exact price for the repairs, but said it is estimated at about $60,000. He asked the Select Board to consider using American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project. The funds, meant to act as COVID-19 relief, are limited to specific uses, one being water and sewer infrastructure. Wilton has received about $198,000 in ARPA funds for this year, and expects a similar amount to be awarded next year.

Select Board members Matt Fish and Kellie-Sue Boissonnault voted to approve the $60,000 in federal funding for the repairs, with Williams abstaining due to his position as a sewer commissioner. However, Fish expressed concerns the water and sewer commissions were getting a too-big slice of the pie. Earlier this fall, the Select Board approved other water and sewer projects with the ARPA funds, including new manhole covers for Wilton Main Street and a portion of engineering work for the eventual replacement of a water main on Route 101.

“We’re talking about federal funds, meant to impact everyone, and we’re talking about the majority of these funds going towards two systems, water and sewer, which the minority benefit and the majority does not,” Fish said, referring to the fact that not every address in town is covered by municipal water and sewer.

Fish queried whether the Sewer Commission could pay a portion of the repair costs, instead of using ARPA funding to cover the total bill.

Sewer Commissioner Joanna Eckstrom said there is enough in the commission’s budget and reserves to cover the entire project, if need be, but there are expected large expenses coming down the road. Wilton is responsible for 14 percent of operational costs for the Milford wastewater treatment plant, which due to changing standards will be undergoing a major upgrade in the next few years.

The Sewer Commission has already proposed a rate increase of $20 per quarter for its flat usage fee, and expects another increase later this year, Eckstrom said.

“We have other expenses that we need to cover with our budget, which will be passed on to our users, unfortunately,” she said.

Eckstom also pointed out repairing the pump stations, in particular, did have a wider benefit to more than just sewer users – protecting the Souhegan River.

Water Commissioner Tom Schultz also pointed out that a municipal water and sewer system helps create an economic base in town by allowing further commercial development, and that it is in the town’s best interests to keep a functioning municipal system in place.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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