A referendum is being held in Bethel Tuesday about a loan to the Bethel Water Department. The loan will be used for necessary upgrades to the Hoyt’s Hill pump station and for the replacement of existing municipal wells at the Maple Avenue well field.
Neither of these two projects require any expenditure of Bethel taxpayer funds, but the Town Charter requires voter approval via referendum for any project in excess of $1 million. Residents at a special Town Meeting last week approved the part of the loan for the well replacement.
Bethel officials say the Hoyt’s Hill pump station is quickly approaching the end of its service life. The facility provides water pressure for fire protection and residential water service to a large portion of the town. Water output from the Maple Avenue wells, which were installed in 1962, has diminished over time. The replacement project will bring the Maple Avenue wellfield back to its full permitted original capacity and will allow collection of additional data for a potential future wellfield expansion to add additional groundwater supply sources.
Both projects are necessary to ensure an uninterrupted supply of drinking water as well as to continue to meet all state water quality regulations. Bethel officials say a failure of the Hoyt’s Hill pumps would result in an immediate loss of water to several neighborhoods, and high water demand this summer is already outpacing the Maple Avenue wells production capacity.
About half of the town’s population is covered by the Bethel Water Department. Homeowners with private wells and homes in the Stony Hill neighborhood, which is supplied by Aquarion Water Company, are not affected.
The contractor expects a 6 month time frame for the Maple Ave wellfield project and 12 months to complete the Hoyt’s Hill pump station upgrade project. The Hoyt’s Hill pump station upgrade is $1,367,075; the Maple Avenue well field improvements will be $995,867.
Funding is provided by a loan from the Connecticut Department of Public Health Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, a program specifically designed to help small town water systems maintain critical infrastructure. The loan will be repaid through Water Department billings only. The term of the loan is 20 years at an interest rate of 2.9%.
The referendum Tuesday is from 6am to 8pm.