It was all about water at a meeting in Randolph on Earth Day. On display was a model that shows how rivers evolve and naturally meander over time.
The main event however was the announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, awarding Randolph $7.6 million dollars for a new wastewater treatment plant -- a plant Town Manager Mel Adams says is much needed. "Particularly after hurricane Irene it became apparent we had issues with the plant," he said.
The plant that was built to last 20 years. That was 40 years ago. Plans for a new plant have been in the works for several years. "It is a big deal and particularly in the Connecticut River Valley. But most people -- know on the other end of the state -- anything that goes into Lake Champlain has to be phosphorous treated now. There are new rules which require us treat for nitrogen and our plant is outdated for the size of our community at any rate," Adams said.
And as a model demonstrates, what happens upriver, has an effect down river as well. Not only will the new plant have a big impact on Randolph, but all the other communities down river, as well the White River, the Connecticut River and eventually the Long Island Sound.
The plant is specifically designed to remove nitrogen said Tom Doty with DuBois & King, the engineering firm on the project. "And the focus of nitrogen removal is important not only for the State of Vermont but as part of a bigger initiative -- the Long Island Sound Initiative -- to clean up the Long Island Sound. States like Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts have been meeting stricter nutrient levels for a while and it has worked its way up the Connecticut River Basin, now to the state of Vermont, so that is the primary focus right now," Doty said.
Town officials say the plant is part of an ongoing effort in Randolph to improve the quality of life and be more environmentally friendly. Other efforts include a planned solar array and changing all street lights to LED.
Construction on the new wastewater treatment plant will begin in August or September. Middlebury, Hartford and Barre all have similar technology at their plants.