Woodridge Lake Sewer District
113 Brush Hill Road, P.O. Box 258 Goshen CT 06756  860-491-2705
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The History behind Woodridge Lake and the Woodridge Lake Sewer district

Woodridge Lake is a private 385-acre man-made lake located off Route 4 and Beach Street in the West Goshen section of the Town of Goshen. The man-made recreational lake community started out as a dream of Goshen resident Alfred H. Wright, Jr, President of West Goshen Realty Corp. In the early 60's Mr. Wright saw the potential of damming up the Marshepaug River to form a recreational lake community. Longtime Goshen landowners who were reluctant to sell their property owned most of the land that would be needed for the project. It took several years to acquire the needed approximately 1,740 acres of land, which would include the 385-acre lake, and to find a developer. On July 23, 1969 the various transactions by eleven property owners were filed with the Goshen Town Clerk and in turn the large block of property was sold to a large developer of recreational communities, Boise Cascade Properties, Inc.

Woodridge Lake Aerial View
Woodridge Lake - photo courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty

The area where the lake was to be was cleared of trees and a 35-foot high earthen dam of approximately 1,300 feet in length was constructed with an 86' spillway. The remaining land was sub-divided into approximately 700 one-acre lots with areas being designated for a clubhouse, boat launch, swimming pool and other recreational amenities. It was the intention of Boise Cascade that the projected 700 build out lots at Woodridge Lake would have individual septic tank systems but due to soil type, steep slopes, ledge and the main fact that the lake was located in public watershed the Connecticut State Department of Public Health overruled those plans. The only way for the development to move forward was for Boise Cascade to construct a sewer system to accept the wastewater that would be generated by the homes in Woodridge Lake. Under the CT state statutes the Department of Environmental Protection must work with a municipality for the design, construction and approval of a public sewer system and not a private corporation. The Town of Goshen at that time did not have a Sewer Authority and turned Boise Cascade down when they were asked to consider forming one. Boise Cascade then came to the 15 original property owners within the boundaries of the sub-division but not part of the sub-division to form a municipal sewer district. As a bonus for forming the district, Boise Cascade agreed to hook up the 15 properties free of charge and to pay their sewer taxes for the first ten years of operation of the system.

At a duly called meeting held on July 17, 1970, the Woodridge Lake Sewer District (WLSD) was formed in accordance with the CT state statutes that govern municipalities. Under the CT state statutes the Board of Directors is comprised of nine members: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Clerk and five Directors. As the design and the construction of the system progressed it became apparent in April of 1974 that it would be to the advantage of the Woodridge Lake Sewer District to form a Sewer Authority Board.

The Board of Directors of the district was organized to act for the district's best interest and to keep the district's taxpayers informed of such actions. The Sewer Authority Board is responsible for the operation and maintenance of a sewer system and has the powers to take action, which a district Board would not have. Acting on advice of legal counsel a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the Woodridge Lake Sewer district was held on July 26, 1971 and an ordinance creating a nine member Sewer Authority Board was adopted. Also at that meeting an engineering firm was hired by the district to work on behalf of the district with the engineers for Boise Cascade and the CT Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). After extensive hours spent by engineers at the drawing boards and many meetings held between all parties' concerned, the DPH and the DEP on January 1972, the Woodridge Lake Sewer district received the approvals needed. The approvals permitted Boise Cascade to initiate construction of the pumping stations and associated structures along with the approximately 19 miles of sewer lines. State approval of the design and construction of the wastewater treatment plant and the ridge and furrow beds to handle the treated wastewater were not received until January 1973.

On October 16, 1974 the DEP issued a one-year operational permit for 40,000 gallons per day of flow. On November 8, 1974 the Woodridge Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant was completed with a designed capacity of 200,000 gallons per day and went into operation. Permits to tie into the system had been applied for prior to that date, but the actual tie into the system was put on hold until full State approval had been received. At the time of start up, 15 original homes within the boundaries of the district, the clubhouse and eight other homes that had been built within the Woodridge Lake Subdivision were tied into the system. By November of 1975, one year later, 50 homes were tied into the system.

The ridge and furrow beds to handle the treated wastewater were a relatively new concept back in 1974 with only one other system of its kind in use in the United States. Due to the fact that a tributary of the Bantam River, which flows into Bantam Lake, borders the 98-acre site of the ridge and furrow beds, the DEP did not want to allow discharge of the treated wastewater into the stream. The beds, which vary in length, consist of ridges about 32 inches wide with furrows approximately 9 inches deep on either side of the ridges. Canary grass is planted on top of the ridges to absorb the nitrogen in the treated wastewater.

On July 27, 1989 the DEP issued a consent order. They had determined that the ridge and furrow beds were not capable of taking the original designed flow of 200,000 gallons per day, and limited the discharge of waste water in the watershed of Bantam River to an average daily flow of 100,000 gallons. The consent order outlined a number of conditions including water quality monitoring, an investigation of the hydraulic capacity of our ridge and furrow filter beds, and the design and installation of a distribution system that would uniformly distribute effluent from the treatment plant to our ridge and furrow filter beds. The district agreed to the consent order without right of appeal.

On July 8, 1996 the DEP issued an approval relating to a hydraulic study required by the July 1989 consent order. It included conditions requiring more detailed engineering studies by the district to deal with the amount and quality of wastewater discharge that our sewer plant and filter beds could handle. On December 20, 2002 the DEP issued a letter to the district indicating DEP's reluctance to favorably review a non-point source discharge option. The also DEP established criteria for evaluating lateral and vertical sand filters.

Continuing to work with the DEP in February 2005 the district submitted a detailed scope of study to the DEP that outlined two core alternatives: (1) Upgrade the existing WLSD treatment plant or (2) convey the wastewater to Torrington. Costs and conceptual designs were completed for both. The upgraded plant option considered two alternatives (Sequencing Batch Reactor and Single Sludge Two Stage Reactor) that both included vertical sand filters and both had 2005 capital costs of more than $19 million. Lateral sand filters were not offered as an option due to their significantly higher costs. If lateral gravel filters were deemed acceptable by the DEP the cost would be reduced by nearly $9 million. In 1996 the DEP approved the lateral gravel filter however its approval was later rescinded. Three different routes of conveying the wastewater to Torrington were considered. The 2005 capital costs ranged from $9.5 million to $10.8 million.

On July 6, 2005 the Torrington Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) sent a detailed response to the DEP raising a number of questions with the district's scope of study. Relative to upgrading the district plant, Torrington argued that given exceptional high quality treatment of water the need for sand filters should be re-evaluated and justified given its very high costs. Relative to the Torrington pipeline, Torrington WPCA raised a whole host of questions:

  • The potential connection of Goshen center, Tyler Lake, and Dog Pond was not discussed in the study neither were limitations place on the connection to these locations.
  • They questioned the effectiveness of only one pump based on the terrain and the high pressure required.
  • The pipeline would operate with varying pressure and limited operating time leading to problems of stagnation, blockages, odor, and a very high head requirement for the pump.
  • The force main pipeline would be extremely long and require special high maintenance.
  • Odor concerns were a significant issue.
  • The smaller pipe system in Torrington would require substantial re-piping to larger pipes.
  • The higher nitrogen content of the district's wastewater would require modifications to treatment plant at an estimated cost of $600,000.

Torrington WPCA also recommended a value engineering study with the following considerations:

  • That recommended on-site plant improvements do not use any existing structures
  • Improvements to plant are based on extreme flows that are more than twice the current discharge levels.
  • Review the pump station costs to Torrington, the current costs appear low.
  • Evaluate the need for provisions for ledge obstructions in construction of pipeline.
  • Conduct a sensitivity analysis on costs of operation of the combined facilities.

On May 6, 2009 the DEP issued a Notice of Violation to the district that it was operating without a Class III Operator required in a Class III Facility which violation was promptly cured.

On July 20, 2009 the DEP wrote the district requesting a written response by October 2009 as to how the district planned to comply with its conditions for sewer operations at the plant that the DEP had earlier outlined in 1989 and 1996. These conditions related to the amount and quality of wastewater discharge that our sewer plant and filter beds could handle. The DEP found district's 2005 scope of study inadequate as, among other things, it did not outline a preferred solution and plan of implementation. In its letter, the DEP outlined the shortcomings of certain possible solutions including vertical sand filters and lateral gravel filters and indicated that it would likely concur with only two long term solutions: either sending our waste water to Torrington by pipeline to be processed or rebuilding our plant and filter beds with significant water quality improvements including a constructed lateral sand filter (CLSF) system. The DEP also indicated a rebuilt plant with CLSF would come with conditions attached including capping our system at the existing level of connections. The DEP requested that WLSD provide a preferred solution with supporting justification along with a detailed program and schedule to execute the preferred alternative by October 15, 2009.

On October 7, 2009 the district responded by letter outlining the engineering studies done from 1993-1995 that concluded with two alternatives: an upgraded plant with lateral gravel filters as well as conveying the effluent to Torrington. The letter stated that the DEP approved this concept on July 8, 1996 and work on conceptual designs proceeded in 1997. However, in December 2002 the DEP indicated lateral gravel filters were no longer an option and changed other conditions also. This required further work on the district's part, which concluded with our 2005 scope of study.

The 2005 Study did not provide a preferred alternative as we were waiting for the DEP's review and comments on the technical merits of our study. The district also requested a written copy of the DEP's "statement of practice" that was referred to by the DEP as the standard against which alternatives were being evaluated. Once the district had time to review the DEP's statement of practice and its technical comments, the district indicated it would provide a written response by January 1, 2010.

On November 25, 2009 the DEP responded by letter stating that it indicated in its December 2002 letter its reluctance to favorably review the non point source discharge option (lateral gravel filter). The DEP outlined that both lateral and vertical sand filter systems are more costly than the Torrington alternative and new surface water classifications that must now be considered only make the Torrington alternative more attractive. That is, if the discharge from a lateral sand filter is considered a point discharge, it is prohibited into a class A or AA surface water body. As for its statement of practice, the DEP indicated it is a work in progress draft that is undergoing internal review and will be incorporated into its regulations. It gave the district until January 2010 to respond with our preferred alternative and plan of implementation.

On March 25, 2010 the then current engineering consultant emailed the DEP and attached a draft scope of a waste water facility plan and time schedule that his office prepared for the district for moving forward with the wastewater project. These documents indicated that the district would commit to a timetable over the next 12 months to hold a series of community and public hearings, select a preferred alternative, hold a referendum by the taxpayers, execute inter-governmental agreements and apply to the DEP for a Clean Water Fund grant and low interest loan. On March 29, 2010 the DEP responded to the engineering consultant asking if the district had agreed to this scope and, if so, we should submit a copy to the DEP as soon as possible. The DEP indicated that the district already owed it a response as of January 15, 2010. On June 3, 2010 the DEP wrote that it had not received district's response required on January 15, 2010 and that unless it heard from the district addressing the outstanding items by June 30, 2010, we would face enforcement action(s).

As of December 2010 the Woodridge Lake Sewer district Sewer Authority is still operating under the conditions of the consent order. Since the consent order was issued the district has been working with the engineering firm hired by the district on a scope of work relative to alternate plans for the handling of the discharge of the treated effluent. A number of studies have been commissioned over the last several years to better understand the challenges and options available to the district to include: in 1995 the "Ridge and Furrow Wastewater Disposal Facilities", "Report on Hydraulic Capacity Analysis"; in 2001, "Engineering Report on Increase in Permitted Flow Capacity"; in 2002, "Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade and Modification of Non-Point Source Discharge System", in 2005, "Engineering Study Wastewater Collection, Treatment and Disposal Alternatives, Volume 1 and Volume 2".

The district is now, via the newly created Planning Committee and the Board, actively engaging the DEP in the resolution of the consent order issues.

Over the years the number of connections has grown:

  • Start up Nov 1974 - 24 connected.
  • November of 1975, one year later - 50 connected.
  • Fifteen years later in 1990 - 426 connected.
  • As of August 2010 - 685 connected.
  • The potential additional lots to be connected number 110, which would bring the total to 795 lots.

Copyright © 2016 Woodridge Lake Sewer District. All rights reserved. Banner image courtesy of Sotherby's International Realty.