Colrain eyes sewer for town center

COLRAIN — Bringing sewer service to the town center could cost between $5 million and $6 million, selectmen learned this week; but the town would probably be eligible for federal grants for most of it.

Ingrid M. Jacobs of Weston & Sampson engineering gave the board a preliminary cost estimate for four sewer options, ranging from extending sewer service from the wastewater treatment plant owned by Barnhardt Manufacturing Co. in Griswoldville to building a separate sewer system that would serve the town center and possibly the nearby Colrain Elementary School.

At this point, additional sewer lines would reach 51 “developed properties,” mostly along Route 112. However, town officials hope the additional infrastructure could spur more commercial development in the relatively empty town center.

One reason for going beyond individual septic systems is that the failure rate has been high, said Jacobs. Board of Health records show that four properties have had septic system failure, two households have septic systems too close to their water sources and seven households have septic systems that are pumped out two or more times per year — which suggests they are problematic.

“Some (property owners) may have potential problems when they try to sell or transfer property later,” she said.

Although the costs are preliminary estimates, the least costly option was to extend sewer connections from Greenfield and Jacksonville roads down Route 112, to pump wastewater to the Barnhardt wastewater treatment facility, for $4.84 million. The most costly option, at $5.82 million, was to build a $750,000 pumping station and a $2.5 million wastewater treatment plant for Colrain Center.

Town officials commissioned the feasibility study, which is funded by a $30,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and $5,000 in matching funds. The purpose, said Town Coordinator Kevin Fox, was to find out the current conditions and what options are possible. The final report, with more precise cost estimates and funding recommendations, will be presented later.

Jacobs said a sewer system would help eliminate potential pollution sources in the town center and improve the center’s commercial potential.

Septic system failure was a possible factor in why the old Memorial Hall, which was torn down this summer, could not be easily reused as a public building. Jacobs said the village district has good soil for agriculture but not for leach fields.

Jacobs said a big part of the costs was pavement replacement for Route 112, a state highway, because the sewer lines would be buried under it.

Selectman Jack Cavalick questioned whether the town could afford any of the projects.

“This is a project the agencies would support, because of the water protection,” said Jacobs. She suggested that federal funding could pay up to 75 percent of the cost, and that user fees could offset some of the cost.

Fox said he would look into possible funding sources.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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