The Town of Tolland had been subject to a Consent Order (WC 5083) negotiated between the town and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) since 1992. The order limited the ability of new uses or buildings to connect to certain parts of the sewer system, mainly the part of the system that runs along Route 74 (Tolland Stage Road). Over the years, the state modified the Consent Order to allow some connections, but the overall limitation continued.
The order was put in place because the town had not prepared a “comprehensive townwide wastewater facilities plan” and had not constructed facilities that might be identified in such a plan. The town had prepared sewer plans over the decades including in 1979, 1987 and 1998. But either the reports were not submitted to the state or the reports were not accepted by the state.
The town ramped up its efforts to create an acceptable wastewater plan in the early 2000s, at the time when sewers were being extended along Route 195. The town worked with an engineering firm, Fuss & O’Neill, to prepare wastewater facilities plans for Tolland: Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 focused on areas served by sewers. The state had approved Phase 1, but neither the town nor the state could find an official approval.
Phase 2 focused on the remainder of town that is served by septic systems. Over the course of 8 or so years, the town and DEEP could not agree on an approach for addressing wastewater in un-sewered areas. The DEEP initially wanted the town to extend sewers to certain areas in town that were characterized by houses on smaller lots. Extending sewers would be cost prohibitive and an impasse was reached. The town was not seeing unsolvable septic system issues in those areas and did not see the need for costly extensions. In consultation with the Eastern Highlands Health District, the town believed septic issues could be managed in these areas.
In the last two years, the town worked with DEEP to determine a new course of action to have the consent order lifted. The town prepared, and the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) adopted, a “Plan for Addressing Wastewater in Tolland” that would serve as an addendum to a 2011 Phase 2 Draft Wastewater Facilities Plan. The action plan provides steps that town will take to reduce the potential of septic failure in sensitive areas, among other items. The WPCA also updated its sewer service area map, which is required by DEEP. The map delineates parcels that can connect to the sewer system and parcels that cannot connect. The map is a tool to prevent growth in areas that may not be appropriate for future growth; it is required for all municipalities with sewer systems.
Based on this approach, DEEP is lifting the consent order. It will officially approve the Phase 1 Plan and the Phase 2 Plan, as amended, along with the sewer service area map.