Orange Selectboard OKs borrowing up to $1.5M for Wastewater Treatment Facility repairs

Orange Town Administrator Matthew Fortier, left, speaks to the Selectboard while Administrative Assistant Brianne Bruso looks on at Wednesday’s meeting.

Orange Town Administrator Matthew Fortier, left, speaks to the Selectboard while Administrative Assistant Brianne Bruso looks on at Wednesday’s meeting. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-29-2024 2:26 PM

ORANGE — The Selectboard voted this week to approve emergency borrowing of up to $1.5 million to replace the Orange Wastewater Treatment Facility’s three influent pumps after one of them failed a few weeks ago.

Town Administrator Matthew Fortier explained there is a strong likelihood Orange will secure a 20-year loan, at 2% interest, through the state Department of Environmental Protection’s revolving fund loan program.

“I don’t like borrowing money but … we most likely will be able to get the state revolving fund loan. So it’s a good loan,” Fortier said.

The borrowing must now be approved by voters at a Special Town Meeting held immediately before Annual Town Meeting in June.

Wastewater Superintendent Oscar Rodriguez previously explained that an emergency situation was caused by the failure of a 21-year-old influent pump, one of three on site designed to take in sewage from the facility’s collection system and distribute it throughout the rest of the wastewater system. Fortier said Rodriguez and his crew managed to prevent sewage from entering the Millers River.

“We avoided an environmental issue by getting an emergency pump truck on site. Oscar and his team down there had to stay overnight for, like, two days, monitoring, pushing buttons, turning switches and keeping sewage out of the river,” Fortier said at Wednesday’s Selectboard meeting. “They did a great job.”

The town’s sewer commissioners, who primarily serve as the Selectboard, approved the rental of a bypass pumping system at an emergency meeting on March 9. Rodriguez has said the bypass system consists of two electrical pumps hardwired into the wastewater system and two diesel-powered pumps meant to alleviate any issue with the electrical pumps. At Wednesday’s meeting, Fortier said the system has been set up at a cost of $45,000, plus a $15,000 rental fee for every month the town has it. It must remain in place until the failed influent pump can be repaired.

Fortier mentioned monthly loan payments would likely be about $3,000, as opposed to the $15,000 monthly fee to rent the bypass pumping system from Sunbelt Rentals.

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The Selectboard also voted Wednesday to authorize Rodriguez and Fortier to continue working with DPC Engineering “to procure certain mechanical and electrical supplies” needed to fix the failed influent pump.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.