Friday, May 24, 2024

Water Treatment Facility Protection

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Stratford Builds Resiliency

Global warming is changing our planet – floods and fires are becoming daily occurrences. Stratford is embarking on an essential adaptation: protecting our sanitation system, making sure that we don’t flood the Housatonic River with our unfiltered waste.

In 2016, under the leadership of Mayor John Harkins, a comprehensive Coastal Community Resilience Plan was developed. With our nine miles of coastal borders and marshes, a large part of our town is currently in a Red zone, meaning that a significant storm tomorrow (not just the 25, 50 or 100 year storms) will cause flooding, property loss and loss of essential services. Our waste water treatment center is at high risk.

Now, 7 years later, we are moving forward.

Under the guidance of John Casey, our town engineer, working with Samuel Bell, CFM of GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., a plan has been developed which over the next 2 years will create a protective barrier around our Water Pollution Control Facility.

The current flood protection system was built in the 1970’s and consists of levees and dikes, with significant gaps at entrances and exits. The current grades protecting the plant range from nine to twelve feet above sea level.

The new plan will create elevations of 17.5 feet above sea level, improve current dikes, and add new dikes that will fill all the gaps, including entrances and exits. It will protect our waste water treatment facility, and be built to withstand a 500 year storm.

The construction is anticipated to begin spring of 2024 and be completed by late fall of 2025, at a cost of about $7.56 million. Timing and costs may change, but these are the current estimates.

A FEMA pre-disaster mitigation grant will provide 30% of the costs. The remaining 70% will be paid through a water pollution control enterprise bond, the cost of which will be passed to consumers in our sewer bills. This is a critical investment in our infrastructure.

The construction will not impair the view as we walk along the water on the Birdseye St. extension Greenway Bike and Walking Path. The wall will be similar to the one at Shoreline Drive in Lordship.

This project is essential for keeping our waterways clean, insuring that our beaches are usable, our streets are functioning after storms, and for keeping our toilets flushing. Our water treatment plant is critical in maintaining the health of our community and preventing disease outbreaks.

The project also enhances the visual corridors, and provides additional storm protection to surrounding properties.

This is a case of a 7 million dollar investment preventing over $20 million dollars of direct costs for damage to the facilities, which does not include impacts such as loss of sanitary services to customers, flooded streets, impact on emergency responders, diseases from untreated water entering our swimming areas, to name just a few.

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