Surely the settlement of $7.5 million with Wright-Pierce Engineers marks a milestone and a change of direction in the town’s sewer plight. No doubt it unburdens Wright-Pierce as well, notwithstanding the huge financial impact it will have on them. But before we celebrate victory, let’s take a minute to put this all in perspective.
As of the start of 2014, the Town’s annual report lists about $6 million in bonded debt related to the RIB system. The motion for costs that was filed but subsequently stayed lists $1.4 million in lawsuit related costs. So with this settlement we are back to square one.
I’m not talking about square one 2012 when we filed the lawsuit. I’m talking about square one April 19, 2005 – nearly ten years ago, when the NHDES declared the town’s effluent disposal capability inadequate and imposed a moratorium on future connections.
To be fair, the moratorium was lifted when the RIB was started up, but the town has said that the system is completely failed and must be abandoned. Moreover, for the past year the system has been operated at such a diminished capacity that it cannot keep up with the town’s effluent production.
The big question, after nearly ten years, is “Now What?”
Does the town use these funds to reimburse the sewer fund for $1.4 million in legal fees and to retire the debt incurred in building the soon to be abandoned RIB system?
Do the Selectmen and town manager stash away the proceeds of this settlement to be used at their discretion to make new capital projects appear to be paid for by the proceeds of this settlement?
Do the high sewer rates caused by the comedy of mismanagement of the system ever get reduced?
I think we all know the answers.
Bob, I read in the Bay Sider, this summer, that a company representing the Town of Wolfeboro approached the Alton board of Selectmen about cooperating on installing sewer lines to Gilford to join the regional waste water treatment system on the west side of the lake.
That would be Underwood Engineers. They are looking into alternatives including revisiting the possibility of connecting to Franklin. My sense is that they will again find that it is prohibitively expensive to do that. Past estimates have been in the neighborhood of $1 million per mile for the pipeline, he town would have to buy a share of the treatment facility, and the town would be responsible for a share of the operational costs of the plant and maintenance of the pipeline. I think the Franklin estimate will be a non-starter and just there to make the other alternatives look better.
The Board of Selectmen keeps harping on the drip irrigation technology that Underwood is pushing. That’s the way it always seems to go with the townies. They get in bed with one vendor and then justify whatever they are pushing.
I’ve talked about land based disposal in previous posts, and RIB systems are considered to be much less expensive to operate than surface and drip systems. It’s a shame, because there has been no credible evidence that the RIB system can’t handle our needs. I’ve posted about that previously.