U.S. EPA extends deadline for plant upgrade in Pittsfield, Mass.
The city of Pittsfield, Mass., has been given more time to work on a $74 million?wastewater plant?upgrade required by the U.S. EPA.
According to?The Berkshire Eagle, the U.S. EPA had required Pittsfield to break ground on the project by Aug. 1. Dave Turocy, Public Services Commissioner, said this summer he requested, and received, an additional five months to begin construction. The new deadline is now Jan. 15.
City council’s resistance to the project delayed the bidding process, which is why he requested the extra time, Turocy said.
In 2008, the U.S. EPA set new limits on the amount of aluminum and phosphorus that wastewater treatment plants can discharge into rivers. Current equipment at the plant on Holmes Road cannot accommodate the revised effluent limits.
The U.S. EPA likely granted the extension because the agency saw that the city is no longer fighting the issue, Turocy said.
“I think they recognized we were moving forward, earnestly, toward the project,” Turocy said.
John Senn, U.S. EPA spokesperson, said in a statement that the agency is glad to see the city making progress on the?wastewater upgrade.
“We agreed to grant the city a brief five month extension to some of the deadlines in our administrative order because we believed their request was reasonable,” Senn said.
The city has two years to complete the project after the January start. According to Turocy, the city has to be in full compliance with current effluent requirements by January 2022.
It remains to be seen exactly how the?wastewater project, as well as impending upgrade to the city’s water treatment infrastructure, will impact water and sewer bills.
Matt Kerwood, finance director, said he expects to have a firmer sense on rate impacts after consultants complete an analysis in the coming weeks.
Kerwood offered a rough sense of sewer bill impacts to city councilors last spring. He said the average two-toilet home currently pays $248 a year in sewer bills, the cheapest in the state according to officials.
Residents who use less water could reduce per-toilet expenses by installing meters at their homes, Turocy said. The residents would face the initial expense of purchasing the meter and paying a plumber to install it, it could be cost-effective for resident who are able to keep water usage low.
“That’s easily done,” Turocy said. “We recommend people do that.”