St. Albans Town Hall

ST. ALBANS TOWN — The Town of St. Albans is hoping to use some of its allocated $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to build its own wastewater system.

It took a major step Monday night by putting out a call for an engineering consultant.

The request for qualification, as the process is called, also would open the possibility of accessing additional state funds through Vermont’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund.  Both avenues come with significant obligations for the town to prove the feasibility of the project.

“This is a serious project,” Town Manager Carrie Johnson said. “It is important to the board and a lot of citizens in the area.”

The town has discussed creating its own public sewer system in recent years to improve water quality and to generate economic opportunities. In August, St. Albans Town officials met with Swanton Village and Swanton Town representatives to discuss collaborating on creating water treatment infrastructure to spur economic development between the municipalities. 

St. Albans Town Selectboard Chair Brendan Deso said the engineer search authorized by the board would help in that goal. He said town director of operations Corey Parent made the initial pitch for it—that it would help leverage the ARPA money by accessing more from other state and federal programs.

The town hasn’t laid out the full scope of the expected work involved with the wastewater project. Town documents explain that it will include redeveloping the area near the new St. Albans town hall.

“There are additional blighted properties and grandfathered camps on smaller lots that would more likely need to be redeveloped if we could provide them public off-site wastewater options,” the engineering request document reads. “We anticipate multiple systems might be needed.” 

An anticipated start date for the town’s wastewater project was set for the winter of 2022. Interviews for engineering firms are scheduled to begin in December.

To choose the right engineering firm, each will be judged based on understanding of the project, knowledge of the bay, availability of technical disciples, experience of staff, ability to meet schedules and budgets, past performance and knowledge of federal and state standards.

Adding wastewater to the town via a public sewer system is one of three approaches the town is taking to improve the town’s water quality. The other two are keeping farms in compliance with required agriculture practices and launching its stormwater utility.

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