Waterford, CT.

Waterford is a small town (pop. 20,000) in New London County, Connecticut.  I found the following news story under the banner “Town Looking To Pass Maintenance Burden To Homeowners”.

Some history

The Waterford Utility Commission originally installed grinder pumps along with a standard gravity sewer system.  The pressure pumps were necessary if the sewer connections were below the elevation of the town’s gravity sewer line.  Today there are several hundred of these grinder pumps in the system.

The original ordinance said the Waterford Utility Commission would maintain the grinder pumps unless there was a change in ownership at the house. The maintenance on the pumps can be expensive, to the tune of several thousand dollars per visit.

Now the utility commission is looking into changing that ordinance, and making homeowners responsible for their own grinder pumps after January 2014.

The Utility Commission wants out

In May of this year The WUC held a special meeting and continued its push to “sunset” its responsibility for the maintenance of grinder pumps.  This will mean 209 homeowners will be responsible for the maintenance of their pumps, which can cost $3,500 to replace.

“It is a heavy burden for us to take care of all the pumps,” Utility Commission Chief Engineer Neftali Soto said. “This is a move to keep our rates down in the future.”

The Utility Commission originally said it would be responsible for the maintenance of these pumps. In 2004  the commission changed the rule so if the deed to a house was changed, i.e. the house was sold, the commission would no longer maintain the pump. Additionally, all new grinder pumps the town installed would be the responsibility of the homeowner.

Since that date, the name on the deed changed on 85 homes with grinder pumps, meaning the Utility Commission has turned over the maintenance of 85 grinder pumps to 85 homeowners. Still, it has to maintain the remaining 209 pumps, which is a lot of work and money, Soto said.

The plan is to “sunset” the responsibility of the grinder pumps on January 1, 2014, meaning the 209 homeowners with town-maintained grinder pumps will then have to maintain the pumps themselves.  It was noted that residents will argue that they were promised the town would maintain the pumps, and now the Utility Commission is reneging on that promise.

Utility Commission member Ken Kirkman said “The last pump we installed that we were responsible for was in 2003,” so that means that we maintained people’s pumps for 10 years, at least. That’s a pretty good deal.”

It was also noted that with the “sunset” the town would no longer be responsible for energizing the pumps, a difficult task during Tropical Storm Irene when the power was out for over a week.

What’s this got to do with us?

There are certainly significant differences between the communities of Waterford, Ct and Sarasota, Fl.  But as we’ve seen in recent articles, this is yet another utility that installed grinder pumps as part of their sewer system and now they want to move the costs of the pumps to the homeowners.  I’m sure that our planners and decision makers mean well, but what will our situation be a few years from now?  Think about it.

Links to source material

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