Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 42
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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Sewers, Technology Get Closer Look at Council Session

Dilshanie Perera

Manager and Engineer of the Princeton Sewer Operating Committee Bob Hough updated Borough officials on the state of municipal sewers at last week’s Council meeting. The cost of outfitting the meeting room with updated technology was also the source of debate, with Council deciding to table the resolution until a new, more targeted plan is proposed.

Since the annual costs of operating the sewer systems are shared by participating municipalities based on flow, the Princetons save money when the sewers are running as efficiently as possible, meaning that inflow is reduced and infiltration by leaks in the system are fixed, said Council member David Goldfarb.

The six members of the Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority are Princeton Borough and Township, Hopewell Borough, South Brunswick, West Windsor, and Pennington.

Mr. Hough reported that by changing the types of manhole covers used in Princeton, as well as adding liners and new pipes to sewers in town have contributed to reduced inflow and infiltration into the system.

In the mid-90s, the combined municipal water flow of Borough and Township was approximately 6 million gallons per day, and now it is down to 3.5 million gallons, Mr. Goldfarb said, noting that the debt service is reallocated among all participating municipalities based on their current share of the total flow. “We’re saving millions of dollars based on the work we’ve done here,” he added.

Approximately 54 inches of rain have already fallen this year, whereas 2008 and 2007 saw 47 and 51 inches of rain, respectively, over the course of the entire year, Mr. Hough remarked, adding that there is still work to be done in the sewer system.

“A large portion of the sewer system is nearing 60 to 70 years of age; when installed the life expectancy was 30 to 40 years,” he said, noting that the replacement plastic pipes should last for 100 years.

Princeton is also a candidate for approximately $7 million in federal stimulus funding for sewers and roads, Mr. Hough said.

Regarding improvements to the Council meeting room in Borough Hall, most members felt uncomfortable authorizing $11,000 for a preliminary design study, with $125,000 to be used for subsequent renovations.

Mr. Goldfarb said “I don’t see a compelling need for that significant investment of funds,” with Council member Roger Martindell adding that he was “inclined the same way.”

Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi said that the room is used for various purposes, including municipal court hearings, training sessions involving staff, as well as events involving personnel from other municipalities in the region.

“This facility hasn’t had a change made to it since 1967; we’re dealing with an AV (audio visual) system that is antiquated at best,” Mr. Bruschi said.

“I’d like to see something more stripped down and more basic,” Mr. Martinell remarked of the proposal.

Council member Barbara Trelstad suggested focusing on a few key items, like the sound system and audio visual capabilities, and “bringing those up to the 21st century.”

“The aesthetic issues aren’t as critical, but the audio is a concern,” Council member Andrew Koontz said, emphasizing that the sound system is a key component of reaching out to the public via television broadcasts of Council sessions.

Borough staff agreed to look into those technological aspects and come back to Council with a revised proposal.

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