Mattabassett District Greenlights Sewer Plant Improvements

The board this week approved the $100 million project intended to limit nitrogen levels in its treated wastewater.


The has approved three contracts that move forward the of the Mattabassett District’s sewer plant in Cromwell. The plant serves customers in several local towns, including Berlin, Middletown, Rocky Hill and Farmington.

The upgrades are planned to address to a to limit nitrogen levels in the Mattabassett’s treated water. Groundbreaking for the three-year project, mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), is expected in May.

“It’s been a long time in development, but we’re finally there. I’ve been on the board for more than seven years and we have been working on this issue that entire time,” said William P. Candelori, the Mattabassett board’s chairman. “This is a very big deal not only for Mattabassett, its ratepayers and its constituent communities, but for every Connecticut resident who is concerned about the environmental health and welfare of Long Island Sound.”

The three contracts the board approved were:

  • A construction contract with C.H. Nickerson and Company, Inc., of Torrington for $93.4 million to act as general contractor;
  • An engineering contract with Wright-Pierce of Topsham, Maine, not to exceed $7.7 million; and
  • A construction advisor-project manager (CA-PM) contract with Milone & MacBroom, Inc., of Cheshire, not to exceed $2.98 million.

“Perhaps the most important as far as the board is concerned is the CA-PM contract with Milone & MacBroom,” said Candelori. “Their job will be to closely monitor the construction project and report exclusively to the Mattabassett Board of Directors. The CA-PM is an added layer of protection for the taxpayers and sewer users of our constituent communities who are ultimately paying the bill for this project.”

Candelori noted that both Nickerson and Wright-Pierce have superb reputations, but in the middle of such a large construction project it’s relatively easy for issues to be overlooked. The CA-PM, he said, will make sure, for instance, that all change orders are justified.

“There is a potential for any project to have change orders, but we are adamant that any change orders in this project be kept to a minimum or hopefully completely avoided,” said Candelori. “The goal of having a CA-PM is to make sure that the potential for large change orders doesn’t become a reality.”

The next step, he added, is to continue working to include Middletown as a constituent community of Mattabassett along with the original members, New Britain, Berlin and Cromwell. Including Middletown will help diminish the increase in sewer user fees that will have to be enacted to pay for at least part of the cost of the project.

The state legislature last year enacted into law a special act allowing Middletown to join the Mattabassett District. However, the legislation specified that Middletown be included only after it pays Mattabassett $13 million and after the legislative bodies of New Britain, Berlin and Cromwell have each approved of Middletown joining The District.

“We have delayed including Middletown for several reasons,” said Candelori. “First, Middletown has not yet paid The District the required $13 million. Second, the legislative bodies of the other constituent communities have not approved the move, although I don’t anticipate that will be a problem. And third, until we approved the expansion project, Mattabassett would not have had the capacity to treat all of Middletown’s wastewater.”

The $100 million project will be paid for through a $22.9 million grant from the DEEP’s Clean Water Fund, plus a 2 percent loan from DEEP for the remainder of the cost. The loan will be payable in 20 years. Sewer rates for the Mattabassett constituent towns of New Britain, Berlin and Cromwell will be increased to pay for the loan, but the impact of those increases will be softened by the inclusion of Middletown as the fourth constituent community.

“Our ratepayers will see increases in their sewer-use fees because of the project, but because the cost will be shared among four instead of just three constituent communities, the increases won’t be as severe as they could be,” said Candelori.

In addition to allowing Middletown’s wastewater to be treated, the nitrogen removal upgrade project was initiated almost 10 years ago as the result of new “nitrogen standards” set by the EPA and DEEP for Long Island Sound. The target date for full compliance with the new standards mandated by EPA and DEEP is 2014.

The Mattabassett District’s Water P ollution Control Facility currently processes wastewater from New Britain, Berlin, Cromwell, as well as parts or all of the contiguous communities of Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill and Farmington, discharging clean water into the nearby Connecticut River. In operation since 1968, the facility treats on average 15 to 20 million gallons of wastewater per day, with a peak flow in excess of 75 million gallons per day.


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