Apr 26, 2018

Pittsfield, Mass., Approves $74 Million for Wastewater Project Mandated by EPA

The project’s origins date back to 2008

Pittsfield, Mass., approves $74 million in spending for wastewater plant improvements

City officials for Pittsfield, Mass., voted on April 23, 2018, approving $74 million to be put toward a new wastewater project required by the U.S. EPA. It is likely annual sewer bills for residents of Pittsfield will triple for the next few years in order to cover costs.

This decision comes in the shadow of a looming deadline of Aug. 1 set by EPA. The origin of this cash approval is roughly decade old, tied to EPA’s 2008 decision to set new limits concerning aluminum, phosphorus and nitrogen content in wastewater treatment plant discharges.

As it exists, Pittsfield’s current treatment plant does not wield the technology necessary to comply with such limits, but the town has been left with no choice. The project will likely be unpopular among residents who will inevitably subject to higher prices. According to the meeting held, a current 2-bathroom home in the town pays roughly $248 per year, but that number will likely rise to $347 in 2019’s fiscal year, and $463 in 2020.

EPA will be stern on holding the town to this approval, citing an already excessive timeline for the necessary changes to be made as well as alternative solutions already explored.

“We commend the city of Pittsfield for taking this positive step forward and appreciate the responsiveness of the council,” said Alexandra Duhn, EPA’s regional administrator of New England. “We look forward to working with the city and the commonwealth on these important projects for Pittsfield’s clean water future.”

Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell, along with others, had attempted to explore potential public-private partnerships in order to mitigate the financial burden placed on citizens, but such avenues were fruitless.

“This is something that our residents are really going to struggle with,” Connell said. “You’re going to see a lot of houses up for sale. I’ve done whatever I could.”