Bethel to vote on $12.3 million upgrade to water treatment plant — with water users to bear cost

Site of the proposed Bergstrom Well and Water Treatment Plant, north of Joe Freebairn Field near the intersection of Plumtrees and Walnut Hill roads in Bethel, Conn.

Site of the proposed Bergstrom Well and Water Treatment Plant, north of Joe Freebairn Field near the intersection of Plumtrees and Walnut Hill roads in Bethel, Conn.

Contributed photo

BETHEL — A nearly $12.3 million project that’s part of the town’s multi-year water system capital improvement plan will soon go to a town vote.

A special town meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in Meeting Room A of the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center to schedule a referendum on funding for the proposed Bergstrom Well and Water Treatment Plant.

The plant would be located north of Joe Freebairn Field near the intersection of Plumtrees and Walnut Hill roads and allow the town to replace the subsurface water currently used for its water system with well water. 

“Well water is much better than subsurface waters from reservoirs,” Acting First Selectman Rich Straiton said. “The well on the Bergstrom property will produce 800 gallons a minute, and that water will be much more suitable for the public water supply.” 

Compared to reservoirs, which can yield drastically lower amounts of water during periods of drought, Straiton said wells provide “a more constant source of water.”

Of the $12.3 million needed for the project, nearly $10 million would be for construction, roughly $1.8 million for professional services, $499,413 for contingency and $16,000 for legal fees.

Not all Bethel taxpayers would bear the cost — only those who get town water, according to Straiton, who said there are 3,500 town water users in Bethel.

“It’s user-based, so the people who currently get town water will pay for this project and it’ll be over a 20-year loan,” he said.

Straiton said their water rates will go up a bit, but it’s not yet known how much.

“We’re applying for over $3 million in grants, which will help lower the cost, but the final number is not currently known,” he said. 

The Bergstrom Well and Water Treatment Plant project — which Straiton said has been in development for three to four years — is part of a 30-year capital improvement plan that the town embarked on after voters rejected a proposal to sell Bethel’s water system to Aquarion in 2013.

Since then, the town has built two new storage tanks, drilled two new wells, refurbished a couple of existing ones and renovated virtually every pump system. Part of the work involved the 2016 completion of the 750,000-gallon Eureka water storage tank, which allowed the town to move forward with plans to further expand Clarke Business Park.