Last week, the Board of Finance approved a $1.64 million appropriation for emergency repairs on the sewer main on Logger Hill Road, thanks to a mistake in constructing the main in the 1980s.
The project is needed because the cement piping used in the construction of the sewer main in the 1980s was the wrong cement, according to Utility Commission Chief Engineer Netali Soto in his presentation to the finance board. The fumes from the sewage and the pipes themselves form a chemical reaction, which has corroded the top of the pipes, Soto said.
The problems were found when a camera was snaked through the pipes and the corrosion was spotted, Soto said (those videos are on youtube and attached to this article). The utility commission has hired Wright-Pierce, a New England engineering company, to fix the pipes by using a high pressure 5,000 psi water blasting system, then spray applying the pipes with 1-inch of fiberglass reinforced cement and applying a 100 mil layer of epoxy coating, according to town documents.
The pipes installed in the 1980s were expected to last between 50 and 100 years, Soto said.
Cost/How It Will Be Paid
Although the cost of the project is $1.64 million, East Lyme will pay 68.2 percent of that, according to town documents. That leaves the town and the ultility commission to pay the remaining roughly $521,000.
That money will come out of a fund the town built when Board of Finance member J.W. “Bill” Sheehan said. That fund will be reduced to $2.25 million, after the town receives its money back from East Lyme, he said.
The problem is the utility commission is faced with $9.255 million in known capital projects in the next four years, meaning the remaining fund will not cover it, Sheehan said. So, the town will have to eventually bond those expenditures, raising taxes, he said.
Secondly, there is a chance more of the sewer pipes were built with the wrong cement and are facing similar problems, Sheehan said. Soto said he was looking into other areas where the pipes might be corroding prematurely.
The $1.64 million is a rough estimate by Franklin-Pierce, Soto said. The utility commission needs some of that money to pay for the design of exactly how to fix the problem, and then it will come back with a real timeline and cost, Soto said.
The Representative Town Meeting still needs to still approve the appropriation as well.