ARLINGTON — The Arlington Select Board awarded a contract to Otter Creek Engineering to conduct a Village Wastewater Feasibility Study for wastewater solutions that will allow for the town’s continued growth.
“It’s not a question of if these systems will fail, but when,” Select Board Chairman Dan Harvey said following the meeting last Monday. “We are looking for solutions to get ahead of it.”
This is not the first time Arlington has looked into the issues linked to a wastewater system. The town has conducted several studies over the past five decades, but has circled back to it yet again in hopes that it can address what Arlington Town Administrator Nick Zaiac describes as a limiting factor for housing and business development.
“The built up areas of town are more or less at their maximum density that they can be built to based on the amount of wastewater capacity that’s available,” Zaiac said. “[It puts] a cap on how much your community can grow, how many people you can accommodate, how much of the statewide housing crisis you can contribute to solving.”
In addition to increasing housing availability, the wastewater study has significant economic and healthcare ramifications. Businesses looking to open or expand in Arlington haven’t been able to due to state regulations, Zaiac said.
“Battenkill Valley Health Center has been very, very clear in public that it would love to expand, but it’s limited by wastewater capacity,” explained Zaiac. “We have community facilities that can’t properly serve in their jobs. It’s something that plays into every part of life in Arlington.”
Acting on the recommendation of the Arlington Wastewater Committee, the Select Board motion to award Otter Creek the contract passed unanimously.
“When it came down to scoring them, [Otter Creek] clearly jumped out. It wasn’t even close,” said Harvey, who also chairs the wastewater committee, which was formed in December 2021.
The board cited Otter Creek’s knowledge of the school wastewater system, and being “a little step ahead” in working with the state, as some of the reasons for choosing the firm over two other finalists, DuBois & King and MSK Engineering. The town advertised the request for qualifications (RFQ) on June 6.
DuBois & King had performed previous wastewater studies for the town, in 2008 and 1982.
According to the RFQ, Otter Creek will study expansion or improvement of the Arlington School District’s wastewater system, which serves Arlington Memorial High School, Fisher Elementary School, Arlington Area Childcare, and Martha Canfield Library. The system, currently rated for 18,000 gallons per day, can definitely accommodate additional usage, Zaiac said.
The feasibility study will also look into adding treatment areas to East Arlington, as well as regions north and west of the school buildings.
The study will be funded by a $100,000 forgivable loan through the state’s Engineering Planning Advance program. One advantage to using this program is that if the study doesn’t result in a project that proceeds to construction, no repayment of the loan is required.