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Work begins on new CSO project

Date: 8/9/2011

Aug. 10, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE — When it comes to the federally mandated separation of the city’s antiquated sewer system, Mayor Michael Bissonnette said, “We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Bissonnette made the remark at the groundbreaking of the latest combined sewer overflow (CSO) project on Waite Avenue last week. With a crew of workers and heavy equipment in the background, Bissonnette noted the sewer system in this part of Chicopee Falls is among the oldest in the city.

The CSOs allow for rainwater to flush raw sewage into the Connecticut River. Chicopee, according to the press release issued by Tighe & Bond Inc. engineering firm, is under a consent decree issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to address the problem. The arrangement, Bissonnette said, has saved the city more than $7 million in fines.

The goal is to abate 544 million gallons of wastewater each year. So far the CSO project in the city has addressed 354 million gallons. This project will address 13 million gallons.

Bissonnette said there are multiple benefits from this project, besides the improvement of the Connecticut River. The new sewer pipes should minimize street flooding and sewer backups into the homes of residents. The project will also mean repaving and reconstruction of the streets where the pipes are installed that will include new sidewalks and curbing.

The downside, he added, will be an eventual increase in sewer fees.

The 16,000 linear feet of new sewer line will be installed on portions of or all of the following streets: East Street, Waite Avenue, Watson Street, Connecticut Avenue, Southwick Street, Victoria Park, Cambridge Street, Oxford Street, Buster Avenue, Martha Street, Wildemere Street, Fisher Street, Carew Street, Cochran Street, Rochester Street, Oxford Place, Monroe Street, Hendrick Street, Shelton Street and Morton Street.

The mayor added the city has taken advantage of the low interest rates to finance the projects as well as a competitive job market.

The nearly $5 million project should be completed next fall and Todd Brown of Tighe & Bond said the work should progress “fairly quickly.” He added residents should expect their homes to be blocked for one to two days as the sewer line is installed.

Bissonnette noted this is the 21st infrastructure project in the city this year.

“We’ve been very, very fortunate to capitalize on federal stimulus money,” he said. He added the projects have employed “hundreds of people.”

Residents or business owners with questions or concerns should call 594-3585.

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