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Does East Lyme Have The Sewer Capacity For Landmark's Proposed Housing Development?

East Lyme's Water and Sewer Commission debates whether the town has enough sewer capacity for Landmark's proposed affordable housing development in Oswegatchie Hills.

 

Does East Lyme have the sewer capacity to meet the needs of a proposed affordable housing development in Oswegatchie Hills? And, if it does, will that leave enough capacity to serve existing residential areas that are waiting to be connected to the sewer system?

Landmark Development's proposal to build 840 housing units on the Caulkins Road section of the 236 acres it owns on Oswegatchie Hills would require a sewerage capacity of 118,000 gallons per day. To move forward with its application, the developer needs to know if the town has the sewer capacity to accomodate it.

After East Lyme's Water and Sewer Commission took up the issue last night and, though commissioners made no decision, a number of them expressed doubts that the town's current capacity would be up to the task.  

Commissioners Weigh In

According to Landmark's calculations, its development would use about 35 percent of the town's remaining sewer capacity. Weston & Sampson, the engineering firm hired to assess the situation for the town, estimates that this one development would require about half of the town's sewer capacity.

"We have an allotment of 1.5 million gallons per day," said Commissioner David Zoller. "[Landmark] is asking for a huge hunk of capacity and by my estimate, we don't have it." 

Local residents from the Golden Spur and Saunders Point neighborhoods who are slated to be connected to the town's sewer system testified at the public hearings that they believed their needs should come before those of a proposed development. Many of them are already paying for sewer service, even though they have yet to be hooked up to the system.  

"Saunders Point, Gorton Pond, Quarry Dock Road, and Pattangansett Road haven't been sewered. Pattagansett Lake has an algae problem. We need to sewer Pattagansett and the Niantic River is in danger of a serious pollution problem and one of the things that will help correct it will be to sewer Saunders Point," said Commissioner Joseph Mingo. "In my opinion, we need to set aside capacity for those areas." 

Commissioner Carol Russell agreed.

"When we're this close to reaching maximum capacity we have to tread very carefully," she said. "If we go forward and approve this, we may be really harming our ability to meet other obligations in addressing pollution issues."

Considering the Past, Present, and Future

Landmark Development has been pushing this project for about 12 years and has taken the town to court to challenge previous decisions three times. It renewed its application, in part, because East Lyme is in the process of connecting to the New London Water Treatment Plant, which should expand the town's sewer capacity.

The commissioners noted, however, that until that project is complete they will be basing their decision on current capacity, not potential future capacity which could be impacted if Old Lyme's beach communities connect to the system, as two of Old Lyme's beach associations have recently elected to do.  

East Lyme's Town Attorney Edward O'Connell told commissioners that, after reviewing the four court cases discussed by both Landmark's attorney Tim Hollister and the intervenor, the nonprofit organization Save The River/Save The Hills during the public hearing, the main takeaway is that the commission has "wide discretion" on this issue. 

 

Gail Melluzzo November 14, 2012 at 01:30 PM
From what I just read, it doesn't. And, I know that the beach assoc. want to hook up and then you will see more people taking residents there and have a greater use of system.
David November 15, 2012 at 01:41 PM
If I read the Weston & Sampson report correctly, East Lyme has pumping capacity only. Meaning that the existing pumps are rated to pump more than they pump now. However, the pipelines that go to New London and Waterford do not have sufficient capacity right now and are the weak link in the system. Also, New London can not accept any more sewer from East Lyme right now because they are maxed out. Waterford appears that they could accept sewer except for the pipeline problem. Notwithstanding the infrastructure (pipeline) problems, East Lyme should not grant sewer capacity to any new development when they have existing customers waiting in line for sewerage. East Lyme's sewer system is close to the edge of being maxed out now and I doubt that they can handle all the customers in line without expensive upgrades to the system. Granting sewer capacity to a new development would be a poor engineering decision as well as politically.

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