Waitsfield will review the preliminary engineering report for a municipal wastewater system at a special meeting next week. That report is the next step toward the town taking action to design, finance and construct a wastewater treatment system for Irasville and Waitsfield Village.
At its special meeting on May 30, 2023, the project team lead by Josh Schwartz, director of the Mad River Valley Planning District, town administrator Annie Decker-Dell’Isola, select board member Chach Curtis and engineer Jon Ashley will present the preliminary engineering report (PER), along with an environmental impact document (EID) which will include cost projections and recommendations for allocation. That meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. and will be in-person as well as via Zoom.
“The PER is going to include an analysis of the total amount of demand existing in our service area, it will calculate what the current wastewater demand is. From that that total demand and total capacity, priorities from the town will be developed on what properties should have preference, that's the work to be done going forward. The PER does not identify what those priorities are, but it lays out what the different components are,” explained Schwartz in an interview this week.
Schwartz and Decker-Dell’Isola explained that the PER will be based on the service area identified in the feasibility study and will anticipate the town using the Munn field as a disposal site. In terms of disposal capacity, the field was estimated to be capable of handling some 90,000 gallons per day using tertiary treatment. That estimate was from two decades ago and technology has changed since that time.
Schwartz said that part of the PER will be dialing in the actual numbers in terms of capacity at that site as well as costs associated with specific types of treatment.
He said that it is critical to ensure that the town’s goals are clear when it comes to the wastewater project.
“The overarching goals are public safety, environmental safety and increasing capacity and options for housing and economic development,” Schwartz pointed out.
The team will also discuss preliminary funding sources. The wastewater feasibility study gave a $21 million estimate for the cost of designing, engineering, and constructing a municipal system. The town recently learned that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had recommended $10.5 million in Congressionally directed spending for Waitsfield’s the wastewater project.
Additionally, the project team was invited to submit a letter of intent for a Northern Border Regional Commission Catalyst grant of $3 million. This program is a federal program that originally helped fund infrastructure projects along the northern borders in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. In recent years eligibility has extended south and now Washington County is included.
Schwartz, said that Waitsfield was invited to submit the letter of intent and was one of 14 towns in Washington County to do so. Of those 14 towns, he said, three were invited to move forward with an official application. Of those three, two are in Waitsfield. One is the town’s wastewater project – which is considered multi-jurisdictional – and the other in Neck of The Woods Childcare Center.
Another potential funding source is from state department of environmental conservation ARPA funds and the state’s revolving loan fund. Decker-Dell’Isola said the town applied to the DEC to be included in this coming fiscal year’s priority list, which would rank the town for the Clean Water State Revolving loan fund and also for ARPA village wastewater money if any previously allocated funding comes back to replenish the pot.
“Basically, they allocated everything they had last year, understanding that every community they allocated money to might not meet the required benchmarks required over the course of the year. So, if that money comes back to the pot, it’s up for grabs,” she said.
State officials are cognizant of the need for wastewater in Waitsfield Village and have previously pointed out that the town is the largest unsewered village in the state.