Aquarion to upgrade Shelton pump station, add generator to site

Aquarion Water Co. plans to rebuild a pump station on Beardsley Road that serves about 1,400 customers in White Hills.

The facility is on a mostly wooded 35-acre property at 43 Beardsley Road, accessible from a gravel road. The access road is between Nicholdale Road and Perch Road, not too far from Route 110.

Michael K. Hiltz, a senior engineer with Aquarion, said the pump station was built in 1970 and “much of the equipment is beyond its useful life.”

“If this pump station goes down, our customers will be interrupted,” Hiltz said during a presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z).

He said the goal of the upgrade work is “to increase reliability” and reduce the risk of failure due to a power outage or aging infrastructure.

Aquarion is exempt from local zoning laws for such a project but made a courtesy presentation based on guidance from Richard Schultz, city P&Z administrator.

Hiltz said the project will require approval from the state Department of Public Health.

Adding a generator

Aquarion wants to replace the facility’s three existing pumps — two are powered by electricity and one by natural gas — with four new electric-powered pumps.

The above-ground 750,000-gallon water tank would not be replaced.

A generator would be installed to provide backup power in case of an electrical outage. A transformer also would be added and the gravel access road would be enlarged.

Hiltz said the generator, which became the focus of questions by P&Z members, would be inside an enclosure designed to limit the noise. The generator would be 8.5 feet wide, 15.5 feet long and 11 feet high.

The generator could operate three of the four pumps in case of an electrical outage, while now only the one gas-generated pump can operate under those circumstances.

In the absence of an electrical outage, the generator would likely be used only once a month for about 10 minutes so it can be tested, Hiltz said.

He said a diesel-powered generator is more efficient than using natural gas. He said during an emergency, diesel fuel would be trucked in as needed.

Generator location

P&Z members asked if the generator could be placed in a different location.

Hiltz said the generator exhaust would head away from the closest house. “We’ve done as much as we can to send the noise away from [the closest neighbor],” he said of the design.

The nearest house appears to be 100 to 125 feet from where the generator would be placed, he said, and the current facility already makes some noise that likely can be heard by the neighbor.

Hiltz said he is unaware of any noise complaints from neighbors about the pump station. The site also is close to Lenore Drive and Martinka Drive.

When asked, Hiltz said he had not spoken to the closest neighbor yet. P&Z members suggested that he do so soon. “We’d appreciate if you’d reach out to the neighbors,” P&Z Chairman Ruth Parkins said.

Hiltz said the company traditionally speaks to adjoining property owners before beginning such a project.

Schultz noted that the P&Z has historically regulated generators because of noise concerns.

Tree line remains

Hiltz emphasized that Aquarion won’t be expanding the lawn coverage area around the facility and will not alter the surrounding tree line.

Schultz said it’s a somewhat isolated location. “You’d drive past it, there are so many trees,” he said.

Hiltz said the pump station improvements also will improve the fire-water flow toward Elizabeth Shelton School.

Aquarion hopes to go to bid on the project late this year and begin construction next year, with the project being finished in the summer of 2015.

One reason for the long timeline is the need to set up a temporary pump station before the new equipment can be installed.