Within the last few weeks, several positive developments have occurred to move the community wastewater project forward and closer to a bond vote, which is anticipated to occur in November 2023, at the earliest. In a nutshell, engineering design of the system and detailed cost estimation is expected to begin in earnest this February and continue through the spring and summer, so the community will have the information needed to make an informed decision on the proposed system.
On January 13, 2023, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) issued the long awaited Finding of No Significant (Environmental) Impact and Facilities Plan Approval letter (https://www.westfordsfuture.com/uploads/1/3/8/4/138498261/ww_facility_plan_letter_1.13.23.pdf). The Facilities Plan letter states the ANR Water Investment Division has reviewed the Preliminary Engineering Report, Supplemental Preliminary Engineering Report, Environmental Information Document, Environmental Report and other related documents (https://www.westfordsfuture.com/resources.html) and they agree, following review and consultation with other Vermont agencies, that (1) The project qualifies for a Finding of No Significant Impact, and (2) Environmental conditions in the project area have been identified and acceptable mitigation measures have been proposed. These findings enable the project to move forward to engineering design and cost estimation.
The Facilities Plan represents a foundational ‘check’ on the assumptions around population, non-residential activity to be served, projected design flows, and robustness of the technologies Westford has proposed. The Facilities Plan Approval letter represents a fundamental endorsement by ANR that the basic engineering and planning assumptions are sound, allowing a system to be designed using these assumptions, and that the project is ready to proceed with design. Importantly, this also confirms and continues the Town’s eligibility for CWSRF and other federal and state funding. ANR also reviewed and approved an Amended Step 2 Engineering Services Agreement (ESA) between the Town and Stone Environmental, Inc., and a Professional Services Agreement between the Town and Birchline Planning. Upon execution of the above agreements and an amended Step 2 Clean Water State Revolving Fund application by the Selectboard and ANR, the Town’s consultants will be able to conduct further analysis, refine and update the cost estimate, and develop final designs for the community wastewater system.
This will enable the Town to answer specific questions people have been asking, such as:
• What are the anticipated costs;
• How will ledge along Brookside Road be handled;
• What will the final design look like;
• How does drip dispersal work; and
• When will additional outreach to property owners occur;
The Town will also be able to discuss and develop a sewer ordinance that would take effect once a system is approved for construction through the Bond Vote. The ordinance determines how capacity would be allocated, outlines how connection and user fees would be calculated, and provides information about connecting to the system.
The Planning Commission anticipates contracts with Stone Environmental, Inc., and Birchline Planning will be approved and executed by mid to late February. The Planning Commission will provide regular updates as they become available.
header photo by Amber Haller
News and updates about the Wasterwater Project from the Planning Commission and Outreach team.