• Today Magazine Online

SEWER REFRESH? Hoping for sewer fee cut

Updated: Jul 17

By Robert Bessel

Chair • Canton Economic Development Agency

Special to Today Magazine Online

NEWS ANALYSIS • TOWN GOVERNMENT

For nearly two years, the Town of Canton has been nudging, cajoling and most recently pressing its Water Pollution Control Agency (WPCA) to reduce its sewer connection fee. The WPCA levies the fee on all new construction that needs to access Canton's sewer system.


Currently No. 5 on the list of most expensive fees among 77 Connecticut WPCAs, Canton’s fees have been cited by several would-be developers as the straw that broke their project’s back. So far, the Canton WPCA has held firm in the face of criticism by the Canton Economic Development Agency, Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance.


Most puzzling is that the Canton WPCA has yet to explain why its fees are so much higher than other towns. The agency’s reluctance to explain or reduce fees prompted the town to expand membership on the WPCA from five to nine members.

The sewer plant has been recognized as one of the best operations of its kind in Connecticut.

Within weeks, the chair and two other members resigned. The long-standing chairman, Bob Suttmiller, had resigned earlier.


These losses deprive the WPCA of institutional memory, particularly Mr. Suttmiller, who served for 30 years and is rightly credited for leading the charge to upgrade the sewer plant in the 1990s.


Without that upgrade, Canton would not have been able to support the Shops at Farmington Valley, UConn Medical Center and other commercial developments. The plant has also been recognized as one of the best operations of its kind in Connecticut.


Only one member of the 2018-19 WPCA remains. Three new members have been sworn in, and word has it that a proposal to lower fees by more than 65% will be considered in September.


Information about the Canton WPCA, its meeting schedule and pricing policies can be found on the Canton website.


• Editor's Note

The Canton WPCA's most recently published sewer connection charge is $8,650 per unit. Different computations determine the number of units for various residential, commercial and other projects — details are in this WPCA document.


Longtime Canton resident Robert Bessel is running on the Democratic ticket for Canton First Selectman.


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