Thursday, June 26, 2014
By James Lomuscio
The Westport Board of Selectmen, acting in its capacity as the Water Pollution Control Authority, tonight unanimously voted at a public hearing for a benefit assessment of $14,824 to be placed on each of the 342 Saugatuck Shores homes fitted with sewer lines.
The assessment to be paid over 19 years is separate from the annual sewer user fee, according to Public Works Director Stephen Edwards.
The assessments were levied for the construction of a sewer system costing more than $5 million three years ago.
Edwards explained that the system, dependent upon E/One grinder pumps in each home, not traditional gravity systems, had been in the works since 2000 due to concerns about septic system failures compromising water quality in the area’s lagoon.
As a result, hooking up to the sewer system became mandatory, said Edwards.
“Saugatuck Shores was under a threat from the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection, now Department of Energy and Environmental Protection or DEEP),” he said.
For the more than dozen Saugatuck Shores residents who attended the meeting, the assessment was not the problem. It was the failing toilet pump systems.
The E/One grinder pumps, they said, have routinely become blocked, resulting in alarms going off and the need for service calls.
Paul Meyerson, who lives on Sea Spray Road, stressed there were too many service calls needed in his neighborhood.
Bryan Thompson, who has been coordinating the project for the town, said there were about 100 over the past three years, about 30 a year, or 10 percent.
“Several of them are repeat calls, and a lot of it has to do with a learning curve,” said Edwards.
He and others noted that pumps fail when people flush the likes of greases, fats, coffee grinds and feminine hygiene products.
The waste, which winds up at a pump station in Saugatuck near the Black Duck, is forced through narrower pipes than ones in a gravity system, Edwards said.
“We would like the town to provide a three-year extension on the warranty,” said Meyerson of the pumps.
The pumps, which individually cost about $4,200 but which the town acquired for about $2,000 in bulk, said Edwards, have a two-year warranty. The town had negotiated with the manufacturers to extend the warranty another year.
“When I’m outside the warranty, I don’t feel comfortable that I’m going to be taken care of,” Meyerson said. ” ...We should be getting a good product with a good warranty behind it.
When Edwards noted that the assessment, not the pumps, was on the meeting’s agenda, the selectmen said they wanted to hear the public’s concerns.
“We have a higher failure rate than anywhere else,” said Martin Bell, a 31-year resident of Covlee Drive, calling pump failures a manufacturing problem.
Edwards noted that the number of service calls would go down as homeowners become more aware of how to properly use the systems.
Dick DelBello of Bermuda Road said he has not had a pump problem but said a local engineer has discerned the E/One product is flawed.
First Selectman Jim Marpe said that he would be very interested “in helping homeowners in terms of the warranty” at a later date.
With that, the selectmen stuck to the agenda and unanimously approved the assessment.
Posted 06/26/14 at 02:07 AM Permalink