Epping OKs $13.5 million plan to close lagoons, install solar field at wastewater treatment
Epping voters this week approved a $13.5 million project that will decommission and close two sewage lagoons at the wastewater treatment plant that have posed safety concerns and install a solar field.
By a vote of 1,274 to 284, voters on Tuesday agreed to move ahead with the project that will be funded through grants and a loan to the town.
The approval came in response to an order from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to close the lagoons.
Under the plan, a solar energy field will be installed to provide electricity to the adjacent sewage plant, which the town estimates will save about $180,000 a year in energy costs.
The town will bond about $6 million of the project with a federal low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state funds, which will also provide $7.29 million through grant funding.
Epping Selectman Robert Jordan, the board’s vice chairman, said the funding was a big win for the town.
“This was incredibly generous of the federal government to actually do this and I’m grateful to the taxpayers for seizing the opportunity to do this project,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture also announced Thursday that Woody Hollow Cooperative, a small community in Boscawen, received $956,000 in federal funding to improve its drinking water infrastructure for 68 users by replacing aging pipes.
The Epping lagoons were built in the 1960s and held septage that was pumped directly into them for many years.
The EPA issued the administrative order in 2017 after some 100 violations at the facility were documented relating to the operation and maintenance issues.
“We have old technology in our sewer lagoons and over the course of time we had these mandates that were coming down. We were basically told that we had to close our sewer lagoons, period,” Jordan said.
Officials say the Epping project is expected to have a positive impact on more than 1,700 residents through improved soil and water quality and reduced operational and maintenance costs at the plant.
“Delivering safe drinking water and modernizing wastewater management improves public health and drives economic development. Adequate water and wastewater treatment are crucial in securing the well-being of rural Americans, and these essential projects will provide a healthier place to live and do business for generations to come,” Anthony Linardos, USDA rural development state director, said in a statement.
The federal funds are being provided through the USDA’s Community Facilities Water and Waste Disposal Grant and Loan program.
The Epping and Boscawen projects are part of the USDA’s Water and Environmental Program, which is investing $268 million in 28 states.