Falmouth contemplates $12M in sewer system upgrades

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FALMOUTH — The Town Council has given tacit approval to a new West Falmouth sewer master plan that calls for an investment of at least $12 million in upgrades over the next 15 years.

The work recommended in the plan would be completed in three phases: current, near-term, and long-term capital projects, according to a presentation Monday by Town Manager Nathan Poore.

Along with signing off on the overall master plan, the council also gave Poore the OK to pursue a preliminary engineering study for the current and near-term projects proposed, which would also include more precise cost estimates.

The goal of the master plan, Poore said, is to “establish a (strategy) for targeted sewer service in the designated growth areas … along the Route 100 corridor and west of Interstate 295.”

As part of the master plan, the engineering firm of Wright-Pierce determined existing infrastructure constraints, estimated future sewer flows and determined what would be required in terms of upgrades and new infrastructure.

Right now, Poore told councilors, “There is little or no excess flow capacity (and) some pump stations are reaching the end of their (useful) life and will need work regardless.”

Among the projects being proposed for the next year or so are slope repair work near the Town Landing, manhole work on Shoreline Drive and risk assessment of flood prone areas, which would cost about $1.3 million.

Near-term projects that could be tackled over the next three to six years include upgrades at the Falmouth Road pump station, and a sewer extension and new pump station along Route 100, which could be timed to coincide with the planned $10.5 million road redevelopment approved in a referendum in June 2016.

Other near-term projects, which total about $5 million, include improvements at the Middle Road pump station, and a partial rebuild of the Clearwater Drive pump station, Poore said.

Overall, he said, the proposed near-term projects would create the capacity to handle between 600 and 900 new users in areas of town west of Interstate 295.

The proposed long-term projects, which could occur in the next 10 to 15 years, are the most expensive and are estimated to cost some $10.6 million.

These projects include upgrades at the Lunt Road pump station and the town’s sewer treatment plant, and replacement of the Brown Street pump station, among others.

What the town gets under the master plan, according to Poore, is resolution of pump station and pipeline capacity issues, upgrades to infrastructure that is more than three decades old, and the ability to serve future growth in West Falmouth.

He noted the Comprehensive Plan creates a number of designated growth areas in West Falmouth.

In fact, a development proposal for that end of town would add more than 150 units of residential housing over the next several years, if the council approves a contract zone now under review.

Theo Holtwijk, Falmouth’s director of long-range planning and economic development, said, “If we don’t have the capacity when the growth comes, then we’ll have an overburdened system.”

He also told the council that even without significant residential and commercial growth, it’s vitally important to keep the sewer system operating at “peak efficiency.”

Poore said most of the sewer system improvements would require borrowing, but he also asked the council to consider changing the fee structure, particularly for connection fees.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Falmouth’s wastewater treatment plant off Clearwater Drive.