• Waterbury drainage issue flows through meeting
     | March 08,2013

    WATERBURY — Waterbury is increasing its lead testing efforts, replacing a police cruiser, and trying to work with the state to make its storm drains less likely to have back flow.

    Some 40 residents along with village officials attended the annual village meeting Wednesday, where they learned of these issues and the results of a bond vote from earlier that day, which passed 86-14.

    The project calls for a wastewater treatment facility upgrade to reduce phosphorus levels through an enhanced chemical precipitation process. The $7 million project will include a local bond of up to $355,000.

    Voters also passed a budget with a tax rate not to exceed 16 cents per $100 of assessed property value, an increase of 1 cent.

    But residents spent much more time on other municipal challenges and historic accomplishments.

    Waterbury’s public works director, Alec Tuscany, detailed highlights from a report about storm drainage pipes. He said some piping is almost flat or has reverse sloping, which backlogs floodwater during storms like Tropical Storm Irene.

    “For a 10-year storm, which locally we saw twice last year, the system backs up,” Tuscany said at the meeting, held at Thatcher Brook Primary School.

    As part of the Main Street reconstruction project, which could take place in the next few years, the state will replace part of the storm drainage pipes. Tuscany said the village is in discussions with the Vermont Transportation Agency to see if pipes on Foundry, Elm and Randall streets could be increased in size.

    When pipes are installed nearly flat, the pipe must be a large enough diameter to effectively convey stormwater, according to the December report, prepared by Montpelier-based DeWolfe Engineering Associates Inc.

    Pipes on Park Row are “very shallow or sloped in the wrong direction,” the report said.

    “During the 50-year and 100-year Winooski River flood events — and again remember Irene was greater than a 100-year storm — the storm drain systems flow in reverse,” Tuscany said.

    “Instead of conveying stormwater away from the village into the Winooski River, (floodwaters) back up through the storm drain into low areas of the village. And that’s what happened during Irene,” he said.

    To help address the situation, Waterbury highway crews will increase monitoring efforts, checking up on areas like a grate near the Grace residence on South Main Street, Tuscany said. Residents might have been responsible for checking on grates to make sure they weren’t plugged, but municipal crews will now do so, Tuscany said.

    In other increased monitoring efforts, the Waterbury water treatment facility superintendent, William Woodruff, said his department is sampling water at 40 households instead of 20 given a recent lead issue.

    In August, the water department sampled 20 households and found three homes tested above a maximum level of lead allowed, which is 0.015 milligrams per liter, he said. Two homes had 0.019 milligrams per liter, on Cobb Hill Road in Moretown and Cloverdale Lane in Duxbury, he said. Another, at Huntington Place in the village, was believed to be around 0.025, he said after the meeting.

    For two six-month periods, which began this year, Waterbury will have to sample 40 households, Woodruff said.

    Homeowners who believe they have lead issues should let drinking water run for 30 seconds before using it, or they can buy a testing kit for about $22.

    Woodruff said Thursday he expects the results to come back next month so households won’t need to take precautions anymore.

    Also during the meeting, village President P. Howard “Skip” Flanders noted the village celebrated the 130th anniversary of its first meeting, held in January 1883.

    Village officials also read a resolution thanking ReBuild Waterbury for its efforts after Tropical Storm Irene in helping repair victims’ homes.

    The resolution noted:

    — The flood damaged approximately 225 properties, of which 200 were in the village.

    — The organization coordinated 10,000 hours of volunteer time, raised $996,000 in funding to assist families and repair flood-damaged homes, and assisted 81 families in Waterbury, a majority in the village, in rebuilding their homes.

    As part of the resolution, the village also hoped that future generations may understand and appreciate the benefits due to the efforts of ReBuild Waterbury.

    A similar resolution was initiated Feb. 5 as a House and Senate resolution by Waterbury’s state representatives, Tom Stevens and Rebecca Ellis, which used the state seal.

    “This resolution may not be as fancy as the resolution the Legislature gave ReBuild Waterbury,” Flanders said. “But it comes from the hearts of those who benefited the most.”

    david.taube @timesargus.com

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