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Expansion may be solution to problems

By Levon Kinney


HAMPDEN Attempting to solve many problems with one solution. That is how Superintendent of Hampden-Wilbraham Regional Schools (HWRSD) Dr. Paul Gagliarducci explained the Wilbraham Sewer System Expansion at the School Committee meeting on May 8.

"Our part of the issue started in 2003 with a letter from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)," Gagliarducci said. "They warned us that we were violating our Title Five agreement."

The Title Five agreement was enacted in 1995 with the DEP to set regulations on septic systems, Gagliarducci explained.

"The town of Wilbraham was also reaching maximum capacity on its flows to Springfield," Gagliarducci said. "We participated in an initial study with the town to look at all of our options. When the study was complete we were left with four options."

Option one consisted of building a sewer treatment facility on the grounds of Minnechaug High School costing $2,000,000 and would require a full-time two man staff in charge of maintenance. The facility would have to be built close to the school itself away from abutting neighborhoods and off of protected conservation land.

Options two and three would be to install a dedicated sewer line from the school down either Tinkham Road or Main Street. The dedicated sewer line would only require the contractor to dig four feet to place the line; however, these lines would only service Minnechaug and would not receive the reduced interest rate from state bonding.

Option four is the now proposed plan to expand sewer service on Main Street from Mile Tree School down to Memorial School.

Gagliarducci added that The Wilbraham and Monson Academy (WMA) is also in need of sewer expansion. If the Wilbraham Town Meeting votes against the sewer expansion, both schools will be exploring the other options.

Director of Public Works Ed Miga followed Gagliarducci and emphasized the problem at WMA. With over 15,000 Gallons per Day (GPD) coming from the 24 buildings on academy grounds along with aging pipes and septic tanks leaves potential for ground water to be contaminated.

"I met with the Board of Directors for the school who came from all around the country," Miga said. "We talked about the sewer conditions and they immediately came on board."

Miga added that 48 percent of the septic systems on Main Street are considered failing and buildings such as Wilbraham United Church and the Wilbraham Masonic Lodge are also in need of a sewer connection.

Interim Town Administrator Barry Del Castilho finished the presentation with the Selectmen and Finance Committees' recommendation of estimated costs for both schools and the town.

After viewing the presentation, school committee member Peter Salerno commended every ones efforts and recommended the committee endorse the project.

"The work in this project should be celebrated," Salerno said. "The partnership being shown here is wonderful."