Waste Water Treatment Upgrades?

watertreatmentfinalST. JOHNSBURY - While Saint Johnsbury residents are enjoying the completion of summer roadwork that plagued their streets, the town is moving onto planning their next large-scale infastructure project. At the selectboard meeting last night, a proposal to upgrade their wastewater treatment facility was introduced.

"They're not improvements that just want to happen," said Town Manager Chad Whitehead. "They're improvements that need to be done as far as part of general maintenance to the system."

 Members of the selectboard highlighted the need to replace the two aging pump stations along with wastewater digesters. These digesters help clean the sludge in the water to help transform it into a non-hazardous form that is safer to handle than raw sewage.

Whitehead says that this proposal is stage two of a complete system overhaul. This year, the first stage was passed when the town voted to approve funding for new screw pumps that maintain the flow of the town's water supply. 

"The pumps that are already bonded for and approved is just a 'phase one' improvement", said Whitehead. "We will be advertising to take bids shortly, and they will probably be replaced next spring or summer, as soon as the runoff ends."

The current pump stations and digesters that are the source of discussion were built in the early 1990's, and are past their 20-year life expectancy.

"Doing it now is just a little more proactive. We can't just put it  off for future generations to pay for", said Whitehead.

While the entire project does not have an expected completion date, Whitehead estimates the cost to be in the ballpark of five million dollars. 

In the past, propositions like this were put on the ballot for the town's special elections in November, but Whitehead says there is no plan to have an election in the next couple of months. Citing concern of a lack of voter turnout, the selectboard decided to place the issue on the ballot during Town Meeting Day in early March of next year.