Officials OK bond for upgrades at plant

Naugatuck's wastewater treatment plant. –RA ARCHIVE
Naugatuck’s wastewater treatment plant. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — The Joint Boards of Mayor and Burgesses and Finance last week approved bonding $8.5 million to make upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.

Naugatuck is mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency to make upgrades to the incinerator at the borough-owned plant. The upgrades are meant to reduce the amount of phosphorous and other pollutants, such as mercury, emitted, and other issues including insurance.

The plant is run by Veolia North America, a private company, but the borough is responsible for the cost of the improvements under a settlement the two parties reached in June that resolved a number of ongoing issues.

The work is expected to cost up to $8.2 million. The other $300,000 is for potential engineering costs, Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said. Veolia is responsible to pay for all the engineering costs, but the borough wants to have someone monitor the work and make sure everything is OK, he said.

“We will probably spend less than $300,000 but we will keep our eye on the ball,” Hess said.

Hess said Veolia has already started the engineering work.

The upgrades include adding a conditioner to the incinerator. The conditioner is another step in the process to clean the output from the incinerator and keep it under the mandatory air quality standards. In addition to the conditioner, the upgrades will include a new heat exchanger, a new carbon absorber and new electrical equipment.

The bond will add $756,500 in debt services to the 2017-18 budget, Controller Robert Butler said. That amount will decrease each subsequent year until the bond is paid off.

Board of Finance Vice Chairman Andrew Bottinick asked if the planned upgrade will ensure the incinerator remains in compliance.

Hess said the borough estimates the work will keep the plant in compliance for up to 12 years. In six years, the borough’s original $25 million bond for the plant will be paid and the contract with Veolia ends.

“In six years something is going to happen at the wastewater treatment plant and there are many, many possibilities,” Hess said.

Board of Finance member Dan Sheridan expressed concerns about bonding more than necessary.

Butler said if the cost of the upgrades comes in less than $8.5 million the borough will use the money from the bond that wasn’t spent to pay it down.

Butler said the borough’s other option is to use its own money to do the work and bond after the work is done. This would have a significantly large impact on taxes, he said.