Saxons River village residents listen to a presentation on needed upgrades to the wastewater system, Saturday. (Howard Weiss-Tisman/Reformer)
Saxons River village residents listen to a presentation on needed upgrades to the wastewater system, Saturday. (Howard Weiss-Tisman/Reformer)

SAXTONS RIVER -- About 16 people showed up for an informational meeting Saturday morning to hear from the Saxtons River Trustees about planned upgrades to the village wastewater treatment plant.

The plant was build in the 1970s and Village Trustee Ben Wallace told the residents that the village is going to have spend some money on the plant to keep it working into the future.

Just how much money, and whether the village is going to get a USDA grant to help pay for it, remains to be seen.

Wallace said the village had three options.

It could upgrade the current plant, using the same technology at a cost of just over $3 million.

Operating costs for that option would cost sewer users about $96,000 per year.

The village could also convert the plant into a pumping station, and pump the sludge to Bellows Falls.

That option would cost about $3.3 million, Wallace said, with annual costs of just over $134,000.

The final option, which the trustees are recommending, would include building a new plant with a different wastewater treatment technology.

That would cost about $2.4 million and have annual costs of about $90,000.

The work has to happen, Wallace said, and which ever way the village ultimately decides to go, users can expect to see their annual fees double, rising from $385 to an estimated $722 per household.

"It's not good news and there's no way to sugar coat it," Wallace said. "Something's got to be done to treat our wastewater."

The trustees are going to ask Saxtons River residents to vote on one of the options at the annual meeting in April.

The village knew the 1970s equipment was nearing the end of its useful life and commissioned a study in 2007 to explore the options that existed to upgrade the plant.

Last year the village began to look more closely at the different options to get estimates on what it would cost to either upgrade the plant or convert it into a pumping station and transport the waste to the Bellow Falls plant.

Wallace said the village will most likely take out a 20-year bond to pay for the project, if voters approve the move.

Village Trustee Louise Luring said Saxtons River currently does not qualify for a USDA grant, which is contingent on the average per household annual income.

She said the trustees saw a recent USDA study, and the Trustees think USDA might have a higher average household income number than Saxtons River residents might actually have.

USDA staff and representatives from the village are going to conduct a house-to-house survey to get a more accurate estimate of what the average Saxtons River property owner makes in a year.

If the village does not get a grant, then the users will have to take out the bond and see their sewer rates almost double.

If voters approve the project at the April Annual Meeting, the village will begin to hire engineers for a final design in the spring.

In 2015 the village will seek state approval for the project and construction could begin in September 2015, with the project being completed in the fall of 2016.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.