A five-year, $200 million project to modernize a Connecticut wastewater treatment plant officially got under way Nov. 15 when officials from Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) broke ground on its construction.
The event took place in front of the city's former Administrative Building for NPU's Falls Avenue facility.
The construction effort will be the largest such project in Norwich's history.
"Over the next five years, the island on which we are all standing will be transformed into a modern, efficient wastewater treatment plant that will dramatically improve water quality in the Yantic, Shetucket, and Thames Rivers," explained Chris LaRose, NPU's general manager.
"Every community between Norwich and Long Island Sound along the Thames River — Preston, Montville, Ledyard, Waterford, Groton and New London — will benefit from this project."
NPU estimates that the construction will likely take at least five years given two major challenges, according to a news release from the utilities department.
First, the demolition of the old plant and the construction of the new facility will take place on a man-made island in the middle of Norwich and adjacent to the city's transportation center. All of the new structures associated with the project will be installed on a pile system to support their full weight.
Second, throughout the construction process, NPU's existing wastewater treatment plant must be kept operational and remain in compliance with all conditions of its permit.
Norwich's wastewater treatment plant has served the city's residents for nearly a century. Originally constructed in the 1930s, upgrades in the 1950s and 1970s were intended to extend its useful life by approximately 25 years, making it imperative to now build a modern water treatment facility.
Project Funding to Come From State, Federal Sources
Funding to build a new plant in Norwich will be provided by grants and low-interest loans from the State of Connecticut's Department of Environment & Environmental Protection (DEEP), including:
- A total of $72 million in grants through the state's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), which is administered by DEEP. NPU has worked diligently with its state legislative delegation to secure this significant level of support.
- Two-percent loans totaling $128 million from CWSRF, slated to be repaid by NPU's 10,000 wastewater customers over the next 20 years.
Norwich's utilities department said in a news release that it would continue to advocate for additional sources of funding from both federal and state programs to minimize the financial impact on its customers.
Funding for the CWSRF comes through the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). David Cash, EPA's regional administrator of New England, attended the groundbreaking in Norwich.
"NPU's new wastewater treatment plant is part of a greater transformative picture, another critical movement to revitalize infrastructure that has long passed its expiration date," Cash noted in his remarks.
"Thanks to the outstanding investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are focusing on righting past wrongs in historically underserved communities and breaking ground today on a monumental and pivotable project that demonstrates what it means to be Investing in America," he continued.
"Every person has a basic human right to clean, healthy water, and this new treatment plant is a commitment to Norwich and surrounding communities for years to come."
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