Four Corners Committee revises sewer agreement with UConn

Members of the Four Corners Committee discuss new developments in Mansfield Sewage. (Mustafe Mussa/The Daily Campus)

The Four Corners Sewer and Water Advisory Committee reviewed a sewer agreement between the Town of Mansfield and the University of Connecticut, based upon the UConn wastewater treatment facility’s capacity decreasing from three million gallons per day to two million gallons per day, at the Mansfield Town Hall Tuesday evening.

The agreement was referred to the committee by the Mansfield Town Council.

The Mansfield/UConn Sanitary Sewer Agreement concerns the amount of water that will be allocated over the next five years to Mansfield by the UConn wastewater treatment facility, which UConn owns and operates, according to Public Works director and Town Engineer John Carrington.

“The UConn wastewater treatment facility was upgraded in 1995 to expand its capacity from two million gallons per day to three million gallons per day,” Carrington said. “In 1995…water usage was 70 gallons a day per person. With education [water usage per person] is down to 60 gallons a day. This has changed the concentration of what’s going into the plant.”

After examining the facility recently, UConn employees discovered its capacity is two million gallons per day, not three million gallons per day. as reported in the sewer agreement, Town Manager Matthew Hart said.

“UConn is looking to lower [Mansfield’s] allocation based on its review of the facility’s capacity,” Hart said. “[UConn] would like to lower [Mansfield’s] initial allocation from 540,000 gallons a day to 360,000 gallons a day.”

The facility’s capacity has decreased over time, assistant Town Engineer Derek Dilaj said.  

“As systems age, they leak more,” Dilaj said. “More chemicals are added to the treatment to get stuff out of the water.”

The facility’s capacity has also decreased due to the multitude of materials the facility now encounters, committee member Meg Reich said.

“Part of the waste strain on [the facility] is…fats and greases are being added back to the system,” according to Reich. “There is also drug and food waste.”

UConn is currently engaged in restoring the facility’s capacity to two-and-one-half million gallons per day in five to ten years, Carrington said.

A committee member expressed anxieties about the university’s prior actions in relation to the sewer agreement.

“State auditors had written…the university was using money…allocated for infrastructure maintenance, which would include sewer lines, water lines—I want to say it was 25 million or so—but instead of maintaining infrastructure…[the university] built a new water line,” committee member Virginia Raymond said. “We need to do a better job of understanding exactly what [UConn] [is] or [is] not doing.”

To ensure the agreement is successfully revised and implemented, the committee passed a motion establishing the precise role Mansfield will play in the agreement’s advancement.

“[Mansfield] is looking for a starting allocation of 400,000 gallons a day,” Hart said. “[The committee] supports the concept of increasing [Mansfield’s] allocation over time as [the facility’s] capacity increases. And [the committee] is looking for some role with respect to oversight at least at a staff level so we can stay more abreast of changing conditions at the [facility].”


Alexandra Retter is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.retter@uconn.edu.