Water Pollution Control Authority
2007 Annual Report
Most, if not all of us on the Water Pollution Control Authority, are serving because we believe
that a sanitary sewer collection system, a robust, underground water system and all new, curb to
curb, roads, are good things for the community and worth our time and effort. We believe we owe
it to the generations to come to leave Point O' Woods in pristine condition, the condition most of
us knew growing up here. A year ago at this time, when we were still seeking capacity for our
sewers, we had no idea the controversy over the project was just really beginning. Now, after
finally getting capacity, and having received the $875,000 grant and loan to pay for the design of
the system, maybe not so ironically the rhetoric from the forces against the project is
rising. Maybe earlier the anti groups felt they had not much to be concerned about but now that it
looks like a new sewer and water system might actually happen, the efforts to stop or stall the
project have escalated.
This letter will briefly summarize the accomplishments of the last year and will also attempt to
identify and clarify the more significant issues raised by the forces opposed to the project.
WE HAVE CAPACITY!
THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH EAST LYME OVER DETAILS ARE ONGOING.
In July of 2006 the DEP issued a Pollution Abatement Order to East Lyme declaring that
their neighbor POW, has a pollution problem which E. Lyme has the ability to help remedy.
The Order declared that the State would loan E. Lyme approximately 145,000 GPD of excess
capacity from Rocky Neck State Park and then E. Lyme is required, in turn, to loan 105,000 GPD
capacity to POW to use until such time E. Lyme has acquired additional capacity in an expanded
New London sewer treatment facility. When that occurs the Order requires that E. Lyme sell
105,000 GPD of their expanded allotment in the New London plant to POW. Then POW will
return the loaned capacity to the state. The loan is for an indefinite period. When the New London
facility has expanded and East Lyme’s allotment in it has increased, then they will sell us the
capacity we have been borrowing from the state through E. Lyme.
POW and E. Lyme have been negotiating the basis for the rates E. Lyme will charge us for
transporting our waste through their system, the method of measuring our use, the cost of the new
capacity, frequency of billing, etc., since November of 2006. As usual these negotiations are
prolonged but we expect they will be completed within a reasonable time.
WE HAVE RECEIVED AN $875,000 GRANT AND LOAN FROM THE STATE OF CT FOR
In January of 2007 POW received an $875,000 grant and loan from the DEP's Clean Water Fund
for the purpose of designing the proposed sewer and water system. When the design is completed
the loan will be rolled into the new grants and loans we expect to receive for construction. The
grant and loans will come from the DEP's Clean Water Fund for sewer construction and from the
State Department of Health's Drinking Water Fund for the construction of a new drinking water
system. The present 2%/20 year loan for design will not have to be repaid until we have to start
repaying the construction loan for the completed sewer and water system. As you are aware, we
began engineering design last summer in anticipation of receiving the necessary grants and loans
to pay for it. By starting design when we did we gained about a six month advantage with little
risk, important, since we are all concerned about the effect of time on the ultimate cost of
The design is being done by RFP Engineering LLC, a successor firm to CEE whom POW had
hired to do the pollution study several years ago. CEE dissolved and its former president, Robert
Prybylo, subsequently formed RFP Engineering LLC. Before the WPCA contracted with
RFP Mr. Prybylo submitted his credentials to us and to the DEP. He also provided a quote for the
design of sewers and water which did not significantly exceed the CEE quote from five years
earlier for sewers only. That quote was also reviewed on our behalf per line item by the DEP and
approved. RFP is on schedule to complete the design in 8-9 months. RFP is qualified, they know
our circumstances well, have hit the ground running and the price is right.
Let's identify and try to clarify the more significant issues raised by others, in no particular order.
ISSUE: Are we polluting our environment?
There have been two engineering studies, one commissioned by Old Lyme and never completed
and one paid for by POW. Both concluded that the size of our lots, the geology of the area, our
topography and low lying properties all contribute to unacceptable conditions for remediating
sewerage on our individual parcels. You don't have to measure it, it is a scientific fact, our
circumstances are simply unsuitable for septic systems. It is very difficult to measure pollution
when it dumps into a large body of water. That doesn't mean it's not there. In the matter of
nitrogen pollution people at our meeting in October at DEP facilities completely misunderstood
Rob Prybylo's response to the nitrogen question. For the record he said, you don't measure
nitrogen pollution from individual homesites on an annual basis, you measure it by its peak
flow. By any measure our homesites cannot remediate nitrogen. They are too small. Betsy
Wingfield, Deputy Commissioner of the DEP, at the same meeting stated that in order to find a
pollution plume on any one site, 30-40 sensors would be required because you can't predict which
way it flows. And on our sites, with large outcroppings of ledge, sewerage finds cracks in the
ledge and just disappears. The irony is, on most days, the very body of water we are trying to
protect absorbs our pollution, and you can't measure it, but its effects, with new algae growth,
decreased fish and shellfish populations and sick kids is unmistakable.
This conversation frustrates everyone and could go on forever. What are the realities? The DEP
has said we are polluting and that we must take measures to stop it. We signed a Consent Order
which stated that we agree and that we will fix it. POINT O' WOODS IS A BEAUTIFUL
PLACE AND WE OWE TO IT TO FUTURE GENERATIONS TO KEEP IT BEAUTIFUL
AND FIX THE PROBLEM, ONCE AND FOR ALL.
ISSUE: There are new, alternative sewer treatment systems that could be used instead of
the sewer collection system being planned. Why can't we use them?
WHY SHOULD WE OPT FOR EXPENSIVE, HIGH MAINTENANCE, UNSIGHTLY
SOLUTIONS THAT DON'T INCLUDE THE BENEFITS AND CERTAINTY OF A
COMMUNITY WIDE COLLECTION SYSTEM?
There have been advances in sewer treatment plants. And that's just what they are, miniature
sewer treatment plants on the homesite. First, according to our consultants, they wouldn't work on
most of our parcels because of conditions sited earlier. On sites where they would work they
would often be big and ugly, requiring bulges of hauled in leaching material and usually a shed to
house the treatment plant. They also require periodic maintenance, usually quarterly, another
expense. They are often at least as expensive as our proposal to install. They would probably not
qualify for 25% state grants and 2% loans as the system under plan would. They are mechanical
and do, from time to time, break down. The individual is responsible for their maintenance and
repair. We would be left with an unsightly, less dependable, uneven, expensive solution without a
new water system, no new roads and little or no outside financial support. And probably most
importantly – how do we insure that every homeowner installs them? Last, but not least, the DEP
has determined that POW is not a candidate for this type of technology.
ISSUE: It has been claimed that construction costs have grown to $35,000-$40,000 per
THAT ISN'T SO. THE PRESENT COST ESTIMATE'S ARE FOR LESS THAN $24,000 PER
As recently as last August our engineering consultants re-estimated construction costs in 2009
dollars and determined we are still below budget. How can that be? For several reasons. The
original estimate was done in 2006 dollars meaning we had already accounted for 5 years of
inflation. To determine a new estimate, in 2009 dollars since construction spans two years, 2008-
2010, we had only to look three years ahead. Costs increased but not as significantly as they
would have had it been an 8 year change. Also, one major original budget item, acquiring an
allotment of sewer capacity from a neighbor, was purposely inflated in case we would have
had to pay an exorbitant amount for the capacity. The state helped, in this case considerably, by
arranging for the sewer capacity loan I described above. By doing so a fair price has been
established for the cost of capacity which will help to keep our costs down below that which was
feared. In addition a $2 million contingency amount was included in the budget for just such
circumstances as the delays we have been facing. Finally, the state has increased its subsidy to
small communities like ours from 20% to 25%. The result is, assuming we pay the full budget
amounts for both sewers and water, that at this writing the estimates are below that, and the cost
estimate is less than $24,000 per cottage. Those costs do not include hooking up sewers and water
from each cottage to the street. The WPCA would like to include the cost of connecting each
cottage in the overall project costs but we aren't certain that our budget will allow it. If it doesn't
then we are considering changing the original plan which was to include connection costs for
cottages with grinder pumps, to perhaps require those homeowners to pay hookup costs just as
the homeowner with a gravity system must. That issue is still undecided. Lastly, on this issue, if
construction quotes for some reason exceed the budgeted amount to construct the system, the
project cannot proceed until the POW association votes to appropriate additional funds
ISSUE: Numerous claims of high operating costs have been circulating.
OPERATIONAL COSTS FOR WATER AND SEWERS SHOULD NOT BE HIGHER THAN
SIMILAR CHARGES IN MOST SMALL COMMUNITIES.
The simple truth is we aren't certain yet what the exact charges will be, we are still negotiating
those prices. But we shouldn't expect to pay more than you would in an average community. We
won't know actual costs until the agreement has been signed, and there is no use speculating until
it's done. We have no reason to believe however that costs will deviate significantly from normal
ISSUE: It is rumored that E. Lyme will not contract to maintain our system.
IT IS PLANNED THAT MAINTENANCE EXPENSES WILL BE PART OF THE POW-WPCA
It is possible that E. Lyme may not maintain our entire system, right up to our cottages. But that
subject is still under negotiation so it is still undecided whether they will or to what extent they
will. In any case there are a number of firms in that business that will work with us so if E. Lyme
declines we aren't in the position of having no other source. Our expectation is that E. Lyme will
agree to maintain certain parts of the system and others will have to be hired to do the rest. The
costs of maintaining the system will be borne by POW-WPCA, and the costs should not be
ISSUE: Financed costs for the system could exceed $2000 per year per cottage?
ANNUAL DEBT AMORTIZATION PER COTTAGE SHOULD BE LESS THAN $1400 PER
YEAR, INCLUDING INTEREST
It has been rumored that if a property owner chooses to take advantage of available 2% financing
that the annual costs are expected to exceed $2000 per year. THAT ISN'T SO. Assuming we
simply divide 430 cottages into the present cost estimates the cost per cottage will be less than
$1,400/year for a new sewer system, year-round water availability and new roads.
ISSUE: POW will be required to participate in the cost of capital upgrades to the regional
sanitary treatment plant.
Here's a rumor that is true. POW will have to pay our share of upgrades to the regional sanitary
sewer treatment plant. We will pay based upon our share, like everyone else. Our share will be
1% or less. So for example, if there is a $1 million expansion we will have to pay our share which
would be $10,000, or a little over $20 per cottage.
ISSUE: Grinder pumps. What are they? Who gets them? Who pays for them?
USING GRINDER PUMPS FACILITATES THE DESIGN OF AN ECONOMICAL
SANITARY SEWER COLLECTION SYSTEM
Basically a grinder pump is a mini pumping station that is used to pump the sewerage from an
individual cottage that is below the sewer main up to the sewer main. They are about 24 inches in
diameter and are about 6-7 feet tall. They are usually sunk into the ground with about 6 inches
exposed above the ground and are located in the yard below the lowest sewer drain in the cottage.
The annual operating cost should be less than $100 per year. The use of grinder pumps, presently
about 180 of them in our plan, facilitates the design of an economical sanitary sewer collection
system. If POW tried to design a gravity only sewer system its costs would be multiple times
higher than the expected costs of the present design.
THE NEED FOR A GRINDER PUMP ISN'T A PROPERTY OWNER’S FAULT. RATHER,
ITS LOCATION IS CHOSEN FOR THE ADVANTAGE OF THE ENTIRE SYSTEM.
In the present design grinder pumps will probably be used on Champion Rd, the lower points of
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Shore Acre, and Walnut Roads, all of Stanhope Road and certain of
the cottages on the East side of Seaview Road. There may be other scattered locations that happen
to fall below the sewer main that will also require them.
THE ORIGINAL PLAN, FOR THE REASONS STATED ABOVE, ENVISIONED THAT
GRINDER PUMPS AND THEIR CONNECTION WOULD BE PAID FOR BY ALL OF US.
Because the use of grinder pumps lowers the overall costs of the sewer collection system for all
of us and because their proper operation is important to the integrity of the entire system and
because the homeowners who have grinder pumps will be responsible for the electricity to
operate them, the original plan was to include their cost and their connection in the overall cost of
the system which we would all pay for. Also each property owner who has a pump will have to
provide an easement to the association to maintain them because the cost of maintenance, it was
assumed, will be borne by the association. Who pays the cost of their connection is under review
by the WPCA.
ISSUE: Why should we pay $800,000 for a water system and give it to the CT Water Co?
A NEW, UNDERGROUND WATER SYSTEM WHICH DELIVERS POTABLE WATER AT
A COST OF $100 PER YEAR PER COTTAGE IS A GREAT DEAL.
Point O' Woods water system is 90 years old, often above or slightly below the surface of the
ground. Much of it consists of iron pipes which rust and numerous leaks with subsequent patches
that occur commonly. It is time to replace it with a new, robust, underground system that will be
reliable and deliver potable water at a very reasonable cost. If we were to try to replace the
system separately, not with the sewer project, the estimated cost exceeds $3 million. Including the
water system with construction of the sewer system reduces the cost to an estimated $1.3 million.
CWC has agreed to subsidize that by providing all the materials for the job at an estimated cost
of $650,000, further reducing the cost to approximately $800,000. A better question would be,
how do we not take advantage of this opportunity at this time? $800,000 is approximately $2000
per cottage over 20 years or about $100 per cottage per year for a new water system. CWC cannot
afford to do the system by themselves. We are a very small community and this would provide
very little return if any on investment. And why not donate it to them, we don't want the
responsibility of maintaining the system. If we don't replace it now CWC will just continue to
patch it and we will continue to have lousy water.
ISSUE: Water going to seasonal cottages will have to be turned off in the winter.
IF YOUR COTTAGE IS DESIGNATED AS SEASONAL BY OLD LYME BECAUSE IT
DOESN'T MEET THE TOWNS AND STATES HEALTH AND BUILDING CODES FOR
WINTER HABITATION THE WATER WILL HAVE TO BE TURNED OFF.
We all understand the zoning issues with Old Lyme and their seasonal designation of many of our
cottages. Frankly, most cottages, without huge renovation will not qualify for year round use and
we won't want the water on in the winter. The question of course is, what if one makes the
investment to meet the town and state codes will winter habitation be allowed? No one knows
that answer yet but it's bound to be tested once sewers and year round water is available. If we
don't bury our water pipes where they belong the issue will never be tested, which is a better
position to be in than where we are today with water you can't even drink.
ISSUE: The votes taken in June of 2002 authorizing $11.5 million to fund the sewer project
and in October 2003 to fund the water system were done illegally.
THE MEETINGS WERE CONDUCTED ACCORDING TO ROBERT’S RULES OF ORDER
AND WERE CERTIFIED BY THE ASSOCIATION SECRETARY AND THE
ASSOCIATION’S LEGAL AND BOND COUNSEL
Our annual meetings are conducted by the chairman using Robert’s Rules of Order with the
Association Attorney present and acting as the parliamentarian. Any challenge of the votes has to
be done at the time of the vote. The votes were certified by the secretary and legal counsel. At the
following annual meetings the actions taken at the previous meetings were approved by the
association by their acceptance of the meeting minutes. Furthermore the votes are irrevocable
because of subsequent actions taken on the basis of the aforesaid votes:
WE CAN'T TAKE THESE THINGS BACK. LET'S MOVE ON.
-We signed an irrevocable Consent Order acknowledging that we were polluting and committing
to implement a sewer program as has been preliminarily designed. There were no caveats in the
order such as cost limits.
-We passed an ordinance creating a WPCA to implement the sewer plan with the statutory
powers to go with it
-We applied for and have received an $875,000 grant and loan from the state of CT to design the
ISSUE: The proposed benefit assessment is unfair.
THE WPCA WILL NOT PROPOSE A BENEFIT ASSESSMENT UNTIL WE HAVE HEARD
FROM ALL THAT WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO ITS DEVELOPMENT.
There is no proposed benefit assessment proposal yet. The WPCA has not yet concluded a
method of assessing the benefit of the project to each property owner. We have just begun the
process of determining what would be the fairest approach. To do so will take several months,
meetings with the board and public meetings for property owners throughout the summer. We
don't plan to have a conclusion until the fall. Some of the methods being considered are:
-Divide costs equally
-Proportional to property assessment
-A combination of the above
This is obviously an important topic to us all and the WPCA is very aware of its sensitivity. We
intend to exhaustively look at all options and are committed to finding a method that is equitable
to everyone. We intend to listen to everyone who wants to contribute to the discussion.
Obviously there are other issues and concerns and not all can be reviewed here, but will have to
wait for a public forum. We will have one soon and everyone can participate.
In summary, the WPCA believes the proposed sewer and water plan is a cost effective and viable
solution to our present pollution problems while also providing the community with a safe, robust
and potable water system and, as a bonus, all new roads. The cost per year per cottage should be
less than $1,400 per year for all three, including interest. We believe the result will significantly
increase the value of the entire beach community as well as our individual cottages. It will be
seamless and invisible leaving Point O' Woods, if anything, more beautiful than it is today. One
of the features of what is being planned is that it is a community solution, where everyone
participates, and not up to each individual to take action to solve his problem as he sees fit
perhaps leaving us with an incomplete solution and an ugly landscape.
William Lacourciere, Chairman
Martin Guyer, Deputy chairman
Kathy Aldridge, Treasurer
Fred Callahan, Alternate