If Waitsfield is successful in developing a municipal wastewater system in Irasville and Waitsfield village, it could result in significant residential infill development as well as increased commercial development in those areas.
That was one takeaway from this week’s Waitsfield Select Board meeting where the board heard from the town’s wastewater planning team about results of a preliminary engineering report (PER) from Dubois and King.
At the May 30 meeting, planning team members reported that if the town is successful in development of municipal wastewater, there would be enough capacity for 35 one-bedroom and 35 two-bedroom dwelling units in the service area as well as enough additional capacity for an 8% increase in commercial usage.
Additionally, the board heard that the estimated price tag for the project is $15,657,700, lower than the previous estimates of $21 million for the Munn site. The town has been recommended for federal spending of $10.4 million from Senator Bernie Sanders’ office and has been invited to apply for a $3 million grant through the Northern Boarders Regional Commission Catalyst Program.
Additionally, the town is eligible to apply for a $125,000 Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) grant. In the last 18 months, the town has received loans of $199,418 to study the feasibility of municipal wastewater and to undertake the PER. Both of those loans have been forgiven by the state.
The select board was told that there are other potential funding sources including state ARPA funds, USDA loans and grants, additional Clean Water State Revolving Fund construction loans and grants and Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development revitalization and recovery programs.
NARROWED TO TWO OPTIONS
When the feasibility study was completed, it identified eight options for wastewater and the select board and project team narrowed those to two options. One is to create a municipal wastewater tertiary treatment system at the town-owned Munn field and the other is to connect as many people in the service area who have private wells (there are 47 private wells) to the town’s municipal water system. That would cost $1,071,800.
At this week’s presentation select board member Chach Curtis, town administrator Annie Decker-Dell’Isola and Mad River Valley Planning District executive director Joshua Schwartz, presented the PER report as project team leads.
They explained that there are 128 parcels with existing wastewater systems in the service area (Waitsfield Village and Irasville) with existing daily flows of 102,506 gallons per day (gpd). In the service area 64% of existing leachfields are constrained by lot sizes, 27% of those leachfields are in the floodplain or river corridor, and 26 percent of the existing leachfields in the village areas are located within well shields.
According to the EPA the average lifespan of a septic system is 15 to 40 years. According to the town’s engineers, the cost to replace a septic system range from $12,500 in areas with well-suited soils and no other constraints and up to $50,000 to $60,000 in areas with poor soil or other environmental constraints.
The team members told the select board that 43% of the systems in the villages are near or have exceeded their usable life and are over 30 years old. In the village residential zone 74% of the older systems will reach their expected lifespan in the next 20 years.
With a tertiary treatment system, the Munn site has a disposal capacity of 84,000 gpd. Given the current daily flows of 102,000 gpd, the engineers recommended that the town prioritize village properties with systems over 40 years old, those in mapped flood plains, those in the river corridor, those with leachfields that are within well shields, and properties that could connect future housing development and commercial development.
Prioritizing those types of systems would use 65,000 gpd, leaving 19,000 gpd for new infill development. It’s that 19,000 gpd that could serve the 70 new one- and two-bedroom dwelling units and allow for an 8% increase in existing commercial wastewater flows.
The select board will need to meet several deadlines in June to keep the project moving forward into final design including completing its application for the Northern Borders Regional Commission grant application by Friday, June 2, reviewing the final PER, authorizing submittal for the next round of CWSRF funding and update its engineering agreement with Dubois and King.
The engineers have estimated costs of $709,300 for final design which they recommend breaking down into three phases, 30% completion ($213,000), 60% completion ($213,000) and 90% plus final design ($283,300).
Project team members told the select board this week that they recommend sequentially applying for CWSRF subsidies for each phase of final design.