Town will switch 2 schools to sewer line

Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD — The school district is spending thousands of dollars a month to pump out the failed septic system at Stanley T. Williams School, and the Town Council will borrow money to connect the school and neighboring Totoket Valley Elementary School to the sewer line.

Officials discovered a problem with the leaching field at Stanley T. Williams School in June, Superintendent Robert Wolfe said. The school district then hired an engineering firm, which recently concluded that the septic system had failed.

“It wasn’t just a clogged pipe or anything like that,” Wolfe said. “This type of septic system generally has a life-span of 25 to 30 years, and this one was approaching 30 years.”

The engineering firm identified three options for solving the problem: repair the leaching field, dig a new one or switch from a septic to a sewer system. A sewer line is located near the school, Wolfe said.

Although tying the school to the sewer line is the most expensive option, Wolfe and town officials said they think it makes the most sense in the long term.

“The septic system at Totoket Valley Elementary School is only slightly younger (than the one at Stanley T. Williams), so the likelihood is that at some point in time we’ll have failure here, so it makes a whole lot of sense to tie into the sewer system and have both schools in the sewer system,” Wolfe said.

Town Manager Karl Kilduff said the cost estimate to hook up the schools to the sewer line is about $390,000. The town will go out to bid for that construction project, and will also solicit bids for an engineering firm to design the system. The Town Council voted at its last regular meeting to issue bonds to cover the cost of the work.

“In the long run, the ability to send our effluent to a treatment plant is better than maintaining on-site septic (and) having to maintain reserve capacity,” Kilduff said.

The school district is pumping out the septic tank at Stanley T. Williams every other day, rather than releasing effluent into the leaching field. Wolfe said that is costing about $5,000 to $7,000 a month, but that money should be included in the bonds the town issues so the district can be reimbursed. Construction will probably not begin until the spring, after the frost season.

Wolfe said the septic problems have not had an impact on students or teachers.

“We have a fairly large tank, so students and adults were never at risk because we continued (to pump), but you can’t continue to do that forever,” he said. “The fact that we’re pumping it (means) it should be relatively seamless or invisible.”

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