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Zoning Board OKs Aquarion plant upgrade

By Louis Porter
Staff Writer

July 30, 2004

STAMFORD -- The Zoning Board yesterday approved Aquarion Water Co. plans to upgrade its treatment plant in North Stamford.

A private agreement between Aquarion and neighbors, who opposed the upgrade when it was initiated more than a year ago, paved the way for the board's approval.

The upgrade will improve water quality and increase the amount of water produced by the filtration plant from 22 million gallons a day to about 33 million gallons, according to the company's plans.

The Zoning Board imposed its own conditions on the project concerning noise, construction hours and traffic.

The board included some of the provisions of the private agreement -- such as monitoring ground vibration and air-quality impacts from blasting.

The water company's agreement with the neighbors, who call their group the Lower Reservoir Watershed Association, stipulates that Aquarion will pay to install mains to serve homes on Quarry Road, Greenbriar Lane, Chapin Lane and Blue Rock Drive.

Although neighbors wanted their entire agreement included in the Zoning Board conditions, some elements were left out because they affected only a few residents, planners said.

"Obviously, we would have preferred that the agreement be incorporated in its entirety," said Ronald Gold, an attorney for the neighbors. But "I believe the board incorporated most of the salient provisions."

He credited residents and Aquarion for working to iron out most of the points of contention.

"It was a long, protracted negotiation, and everybody reached a consensus and agreement, and I think everybody is pleased," said Arnold Kapiloff, one of the neighbors.

Jane Freeman, an attorney for Aquarion, said the board's conditions will not interfere with the upgrade.

"We are pleased with the decision," she said.

A few elements of the city approval, such as a conservation easement on some of the Aquarion land, will have to be completed before the project moves ahead, she said.

"Aquarion is eager to go forward at the earliest possible date," Freeman said.

The company scaled back the plant upgrade from the original design. Large storage tanks on the site that would have held more than 4 million gallons of water now will hold about 2.4 million gallons. Neighbors and the city will review what color the tanks are painted to make sure they are as unobtrusive as possible.

The cost of the project has been estimated at $45 million.

Capital funds for the project will come from land sold to the state and The Nature Conservancy about two years ago by Aquarion's parent company, Kelda, based in the United Kingdom.

Provided the state Department of Public Utility Control approves rate increases, water customers will reimburse the company for the money it will spend on the plant improvements.

The Zoning Board's approval -- and the agreement with the neighbors -- are contingent on Aquarion connecting to the city sewer system, rather than trucking water filtration by-products away from the plant.

The city is building a sewer line to Northeast Elementary School using an empty Aquarion water main. Aquarion is helping with that project and plans to extend the sewer line to the North Stamford plant.

 

Copyright 2004, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.