Support the sewer project
I am writing to voice my support for the proposed Malletts Bay sewer project that will appear on the voter ballot on March 5 at Colchester High School.
While I have no property in the project service area, I am a user of the bay as a swimmer and boater as well as a volunteer on the Colchester Triathlon Committee. Over the past decade there have been numerous beach closings due to E. coli contamination. Biological analysis indicates that roughly 10 percent of these bacteria are from humans primarily from failing septic systems along the lakeshore. For some 50 years we have debated the need to deal with the issues threatening our town’s crown jewel, Malletts Bay.
Previous efforts to clear the bay of human contamination floundered as many taxpayers questioned why so few seemed to benefit from such a large tax money investment in a sewer system. This proposal is different. Property taxes are not the basis for the $14.3 million project. Someone owning property on Middle Road will see the benefit of a cleaner bay but will see no additional property tax as a result. This proposal will be paid for with a combination of low interest loans, water quality grants, a portion of LOT (local option tax) proceeds and user fees from those systems connected in the service area. So a voter not living in the service area asking “What’s in it for me?” will get a cleaner bay, not a bigger tax bill. Granted, buying a non-food item in town will generate dollars for the project, but everyone, our Canadian friends included, will chip in on lake cleanup, an asset they seem to thoroughly enjoy.
This is the cleanest, most cost effective and taxpayer neutral lake water quality proposal I have seen in the 50 years I have lived here. Now is the time to act and begin the long delayed process of reducing contamination of our identity, the bay. I believe this is our last, best effort and deserves the approval of all voters, regardless of what part of town they live in.
Middle Road, Colchester
Concerns about town sewer proposal
The issues I am addressing are: Water quality in Malletts Bay and the local option tax (LOT).
The 2018 State of the Lake Summary states that “Malletts Bay provides quality clean water with the lowest phosphorus concentration in the lake and occasional elevated bacterial counts
have caused public beach closures in recent years.” The criterion for closure is 235CFU/100ml of water as determined by the state of Vermont and adhered to by the town of Colchester since 2013.
Since 2013 through 2018, multiple samples were obtained by the town of Colchester every Monday and Wednesday for the months of June, July and August and were analyzed by a lab in Williston.
The results were 235CFU/100ml or greater nine days out of 90 days at Bayside Beach (inner Malletts Bay). This means E.coli counts were above the limit 1.66 percent days out of 90 days. The same sampling procedure was also done at Rossetti Natural Area (outer Malletts Bay). Six days were identified to have equal or greater concentrations of E.coli. This translates to 1 percent out of 90 days.
A 2006 study done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Lake Champlain Sea Grant identified dog waste as a significant source of E.coli contamination. Since 2006, EPA/LCSG initiated successful workshops reducing and preventing pathogen related beach closures.
We all are aware of septic failures most notable occurring in the inner bay. Most of these failures are from very old septic systems and many have been replaced with septic systems that are
on the cutting edge of technology – at a much smaller cost than the proposed $14 million!
Colchester proposes to utilize $2.5 million of the local option tax (hereafter referred as LOT) for the initial costs of a mandatory hook-up of all homes on West and East Lakeshore regardless
of their septic system status. This amount of money is 66 percent of the June 2019 LOT anticipated amount of $3.2 million. The town flyer recently mailed to all homeowners does not point out this fact nor is there any mention of a yearly sewer fee (the range I was able to find was from $600 – $900 yearly). Historically, sewer costs increase as new pumping stations are built.
Aaron Frank, town manager, stated (Jan. 2019 Colchester Town News), “the LOT will pay voter approved debt $517,884/year for drainage improvements for the next eight years” totaling over $4 million. In addition, $2.5 million will be drawn on the LOT fund for the proposed sewer project. As previously documented by Mr. Jack Scully, property taxes have not been decreased each year as was the original intention of the LOT funds.
Where will all this needed money come from?
Carol Woods, Colchester
Vote yes for sewer project
Malletts Bay is the jewel of Colchester. It is a vibrant community asset we all enjoy, whether it be by listening to a concert overlooking Lake Champlain, playing basketball, tennis or swimming at Bayside Park, relaxing on the beach, or simply admiring the beauty of a sunset. We all take pride in the bay and must together each play our part in taking care of this natural resource.
Over time, the properties along the bay and close to the water, many of them with old and failing septic systems, are polluting our bay. I am proud to be a part of the Colchester community. I am happy to see that our town is proposing a sewer project to address this important environmental issue. I have seen the presentations and information provided by the town. The project appears to be very well thought out, planned to minimize traffic disruptions, and is funded without a property tax increase. Quite frankly, this project is long overdue.
I support the Malletts Bay Sewer Project and believe it is the right thing to do for our community.
Addressing bacteria caused by a failing septic system is not the only challenge we face in Malletts Bay. Stormwater, another enemy of clean water, is also a concern. I had the opportunity to serve on the Stormwater Citizens Advisory Committee to assist the town’s public works department in the development of a stormwater utility. I saw firsthand all of the town’s effort to address the pollutants caused by stormwater. These include improvements to reducing impervious surfaces through zoning changes and raising the bar in construction standards and using green stormwater infrastructure to treat stormwater and plans to reduce phosphorus that drains into the bay and lake. These are actionable steps our town is taking to address stormwater and ones that will benefit our bay.
Water quality is critical to our community’s security and safety. Addressing water quality challenges is an investment in these vital community needs. It is our collective responsibility to ensure the highest standards. I am very pleased to see how seriously our town takes water quality.
Please join me in supporting the Malletts Bay Sewer Project by voting yes on ballot item seven. Together we can address these challenges, ensure that the bay and our town is a place to work, live and play for generations to come.
Bay Harbor Marina, Colchester