MERIDEN — State-mandated upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant are continuing to move forward after the City Council authorized an addition $2.23 million for the project this week.
The council unanimously approved increasing the total amount of bonding authorized for the project from $47.7 million to $50 million. Public Utilities Director Dennis Waz told councilors last month the additional funds are needed to cover $1.3 million in the accrued interest the city will pay as part of a low-interest loan from the state. The remaining $900,000 is being included to cover any possible legal or financial issues.
Waz asked that the additional costs be included with the total bonding for the project at the recommendation of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which is overseeing the project. Waz said some of that money may never be spent.
The council unanimously approved the additional bonding after the Finance Committee unanimously approved it last month.
The project includes state-mandated upgrades to the phosphorus removal process at the city's water pollution control facility, as well as a wholesale upgrade to the remote Silver Lake pump station, which Waz said is in "dire" need of repairs.
Meriden expects a state grant to cover 38 percent of the project's costs. The city will receive a 20-year, low-interest loan for the remaining costs.
Meriden is one of several local municipalities completing upgrades to meet stricter phosphorus discharge limits being enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Phosphorus is considered an environmental hazard because it causes algae blooms, which deplete oxygen in water bodies and pose a threat to wildlife.
"Nobody wants to do this, but we're mandated…" said Finance Committee Vice Chairman Walter Shamock last month. "So I just want the public to know that we're not indiscriminately spending the money."
Construction for the upgrades is expected to start this summer and take about 33 months.
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