Three public sewer and water projects in the Town of Bedford will get a boost from the American Rescue Plan Act money after Bedford Town Council voted to support the projects earlier this week.
After discussing several ARPA-eligible sewer and water projects that are part of the authority’s capital improvement plan in a work session last week, Mayor Tim Black said council members reached a consensus on its top two priorities from the options presented: sewer system improvements in Bedford’s Town and Country neighborhood, which serves approximately 175 homes; and a tank replacement at Helm Street. The Helm Street tank serves not only the Town of Bedford, but some surrounding locations as well, for a total of about 4,000 customers. Each of these authority projects could cost an estimated $2 million total, said Brian Key, executive director of the authority.
The third project is a water line down Belltown Road. The Belltown Road water line project was identified about 15 years ago, before the town’s reversion from a city and prior to the formation of the authority in 2013, said Bart Warner, town manager.
The Belltown Road water line issue stems from the town’s former landfill site off Draper Road and Belltown Road, Warner said. Although the town closed down the landfill in accordance with all applicable regulations and standards, some leachate from the facility started tracking toward neighboring homes, all of which receive water from wells.
Due to this issue, the town has been required to provide extensive monitoring and testing reports to the Department of Environmental Quality on a regular basis, at a current annual cost of about $50,000.
In 2017, Warner said the town began discussions with the authority about adding a capital improvement project to install a water line to service the affected residents. This project’s estimated cost is $300,000, and using some of the ARPA money could help offset the expense.
Because the Belltown Road project had been formally noted as an infrastructure need and is therefore “existing,” Warner and Key said the project should be eligible within ARPA spending parameters, which include requirements that eligible projects must already exist within a locality, and eligible projects must be completed by the plan’s spending deadline several years from now.
The town has so far received $3.4 million in ARPA money, and will receive $3.4 million more for the second and final dissemination.
Councilors did not settle on an exact dollar figure the town would commit to each project but unanimously moved to allocate up to $500,000 toward the Belltown Road project, up to $2 million toward the Town and Country sewer project, up to $2 million for the Helm Street water tank replacement and up to $100,000 for broadband improvements within town limits.
“We’ve got to help improve the system. Anything we can do is going to be further down the line to getting the system we need,” Black said of public sewer and water service.
The town will receive the second half of its ARPA allotment by February 2022.
“Any assistance you provide us is appreciated,” Key said to council. “[It] helps our customers at the end of the day.”