New London is proceeding with a $6.5 million upgrade to its public water infrastructure to better prepare the communities it serves for drought conditions.
The bond will finance an upgrade to a Lake Konomoc intake pump station to access an additional 366 million gallons of water at the reservoir, which is located off Route 85 in Waterford. According to an application to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the upgrade will access water at a deeper level than the current intake pipe for the water treatment plant. The improved access will allow for a higher safe yield level and reduce the frequency of drought advisories.
In a memo to Mayor Daryl Finizio, Public Utilities Director Joe Lanzafame said the project qualified for a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan with a $300,000 principal forgiveness and loan rate of two percent with a 20-year payback. Lanzafame said the application process required the City Council to approve a $6.5 million bond in order to qualify for the loan.
The council approved the bond in a 4-3 vote last week on the item’s third and final reading. Lanzafame said the first year of repayment will increase the city's debt payments by $400,000 for the 2014 fiscal year while a payment of about $300,000 will take place in the final year in 2034.
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The project will involve $6 million in construction costs and $500,000 in professional service costs. Lanzafame said the Water and Water Pollution Control Authority endorsed the project and recommended approval of the bond, saying grant assistance may not be available in future years.
Opponents of the measure said they were concerned with the effect it could have on water rates, which increased recently for the first time in several years. Supporters said the water rates would remain reasonable compared to other municipalities in the state while ensuring an adequate water supply during drought conditions. Lanzafame said the improvement will also increase the ability to generate revenue by providing more water to East Lyme—with which New London has a water sharing agreement—or other areas.
The pump station project is the second phase of the project, following the completion of a design and permits process.