Town of Wolcott Wins $2.6M Grant for Port Bay Sewer Project

    By on January 5, 2016

    In April of 2011, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) created a TMDL, which stands for Total Maximum Daily Load, for phosphorus in Port Bay. The report concluded that due to phosphorus impairments, Port Bay was ranked as a “high priority” for phosphorus and the problem had to be addressed.

    In the report, the DEC cited a 3-step plan that was to be followed with deadlines. Step 2 of the plan was total elimination of septic system loading by the connection to a public sewer by the year 2020. If the town failed to meet this mandate, it could incur fines of up to $25,000 per day.

    In late December, outgoing Town of Wolcott Supervisor, Kim Park received some good news. “I received notice that the Town was successful in receiving $2.625 million dollars in grant funding from New York State”. This money will offset the $10.7 million dollar price tag for the Port Bay Sewer Project – a joint venture between the Towns of Wolcott & Huron. When asked how long it took to accomplish such large projects like this, Ms. Park stated “I came into office in 2006 and immediately faced the challenges of having to find ways to protect our bays and meet the DEC mandates without raising, doubling or even tripling taxes – which has been the case in other communities faced with these same mandates”. Park continues, “We immediately started writing grant applications, and didn’t stop. Based on the Four Bay cost and feasibility sewer study the town had prepared earlier, the projected cost to in-district households was an unaffordable $1,200-$1,800 each. It took four years of hard work to find 0% interest funding to get the cost cut more than in half and bring it down to a relatively affordable rate. With the addition of this $2.65M grant, the cost lowers even further to roughly $450 each. While in office, myself and the town board were successful in securing around $7 million dollars in total for necessary improvements to the towns’ infrastructure”.

    The Port Bay Sewer project is slated to begin construction in 2017. Park went on to say “obtaining this grant for the Town is a great note to go out on. There is additional money that can be sought this year to lower those costs even more as well as other opportunities, but I am fearful this will be the last opportunity the Town sees for a long time.”

    As for administration of the project, the Town of Wolcott is the lead agency, meaning new town of Wolcott supervisor Lynn Chatfield will be taking the helm as of January 4, 2016. When asked about the project, Chatfield was optimistic: “There is a lot to go over. Since getting this position, I have been immersing myself in all aspects of the town governance, and with the help of the Town Board, I feel we can make a smooth transition”.

    Though Park has left office, when asked what comes next for her, she, too was optimistic, saying, “It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Supervisor for the last 10 years. I am leaving the Town in the best financial shape possible with the lowest tax rate in the County and a very healthy unreserved fund balance that we have grown. We have found savings and passed those on to the taxpayer and still accomplished our goals.”

    The grant comes from Governor Cuomo’s New York State Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015. This clean water revolving fund program works to address the funding gap for communities facing billions in backlogged water infrastructure projects. The state will allocate $50 million in the current budget, and $75 million in each of the next two. The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYS EFC) will administer the program.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    WHAT IS THE BASIC SCOPE OF THE PROJECT?

    • Approximately 17 miles of primarily small diameter, low pressure sanitary sewer force main with individual grinder pumps and laterals for each home, to provide sanitary sewer service around Port Bay.

    • Approximately 619 homes will be served, including approximately 433 homes in Wolcott and 186 in Huron.

    WHAT IS THE STATUS AND SCHEDULE FOR THE PROJECT?

    • The project is presently in the preliminary engineering design phase. District residents may recall receiving a letter this past August asking for information about septic tank and leach field on their property. The design engineer for the project, MRB Group, P.C., is using the information provided by residents to prepare a preliminary layout and design for the sewer system.

    • The design and regulatory approval process will continue through 2016. Construction of the project is anticipated to begin in the spring/summer of 2017. Due to the size of the project, it is expected to take two construction seasons to complete. Construction completion is anticipated in the summer of 2018.

    WHAT ACTION DO DISTRICT RESIDENTS NEED TO TAKE?

    • At this time the only action district residents need to take is to provide the septic tank and leach field information requested in the letter they received in August 2015, if they have not already done so. Please sketch in any other property features that would be important for us to know (ex. Wells and water lines, gas and other utility lines, drainage pipes, propane tanks, retaining walls, landscaping areas, etc.)

    WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON DISTRICT RESIDENTS PROPERTY?

    • A grinder pump, lateral, and control panel will be installed on your property as part of the project. The grinder pump will collect all of the wastewater in your home, grind it into a slurry, and pump it through the sewer lateral to the sewer main at the road. The control panel is approximately 16” x 14” and will be mounted on the exterior of the home at the location of the grinder pump.

    ARE DISTRICT RESIDENTS RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY PART OF THE CONNECTION TO THE SEWER?

    • Yes, district residents are responsible for connecting their existing plumbing to the grinder pump and their existing electric to the grinder pump control panel and abandoning their septic tank. More details regarding the connection requirements will be provided to each resident as the construction start date approaches.

    WHAT ARE SOME OF THE IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS?

    • In May or June of 2016, district residents should receive an easement in the mail, with a request that they sign and return the easement. Signing the easement in a timely manner is a critical action they will need to take. The grinder pump and lateral cannot be installed on the property until the easement is signed.

    • A public information meeting will likely be scheduled in May or June of 2016, about the time the easement maps are distributed. A project update will be given at the meeting, and residents will be given the opportunity to ask questions about the project, including their easement maps.

    • As stated above, in the weeks leading up to the start of construction, each resident will receive a packet with detailed information and instructions regarding the requirements and procedures for hooking up to the sewer system. This information will also be covered in the public information meeting referenced above.

    Prepared by MRB Group, P.C.

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