The Mattabassett, Conn. District is scheduled to vote on December 19 on whether to approve C.H. Nickerson of Torrington, Conn., to upgrade and expand the regional sewer district’s 35-million-gallon/day wastewater treatment plant in Cromwell. Nickerson, the lowest bidder for the project, bid $93.5 million.

Rendering Courtesy of Wright-Pierce
Construction on the Mattabassett District's planned WTP upgrade could begin as early as March 2012.

If Nickerson is approved, construction could begin as early as March 2012, says Brian Armet, the district’s executive director. If it is not approved, the district would lose a state grant covering 22.9% of project costs and would likely have to put its plans on hold for two years and then reapply for the grant and launch another round of bidding, he says.

The total project cost including design, construction and contingency construction fees is about $117 million and will take about 38 months to be completed, Armet says. The project includes upgrading a sludge incinerator; adding a new final clarifier; and installing nitrogen aeration tanks, which will help the district meet regional environmental mandates on reducing nitrogen loads to the Long Island Sound. Wright-Pierce, Middletown, Conn., is the engineering firm for the upgraded facility.

The WTP fully serves Berlin, Cromwell and New Britain, and treats a portion of the wastewater from Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill and Farmington. The facility currently treats 20 million to 22 million gals/day of sewage but will eventually add 8 million gallons from Middletown, which will soon shutter its own WTP and transfer capacity to the district’s WTP.

Armet would not speculate on whether Nickerson’s bid is likely to be approved but says that the project’s cost is “a very scary undertaking for the towns,” as it will raise user fees.

The upgrade is necessary, however, Armet says. Besides the need to meet the stricter environmental standards, the district’s plant also must be ready to meet the wastewater flow and treatment needs during the next 20 years of all the towns it serves, he says. Besides Middletown, “other communities have indicated that they need additional capacity to accommodate their projected growth in 2030,” he says.