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Ensure Adequate Sanitary Sewer Service
Public sewers can provide safe and efficient sewage disposal for residential and business needs, protect public health, and support desired development patterns.

Bethel’s Public Works Department, primarily through the Town Engineer and the Utility Supervisor, maintain the municipal sewer mains located within the Town. The Town has an inter-local Agreement with the City of Danbury to send its municipal sewage to their treatment facility. There are three different sewer service areas served by three sewer pump stations.

As identified on the Sewer Service Areas Plan, sewer lines currently serve the entire downtown Bethel area, the Francis J. Clarke Industrial Park, the Berkshire Industrial Park, Hoyt’s Hill, and the Stony Hill/Route 6 Corridor. Sewer service has been approved for Chimney Heights and Phase 1 work on installation of sewer service to this neighborhood has begun. The Sewer Service Areas Plan identifies existing, proposed and potential sewer service areas. Areas not identified on the Sewer Service Areas Plan use private septic systems.

As of October 2006, there were 3,476 customers of the Bethel Sewer System. An agreement with the Danbury Sewage Treatment Plant (DSTP) allows for up to two million gallons of sewage a day. Current usage is approximately 1.2 million gallons a day indicating that there may be some excess capacity in the system.

However, according to a recent study conducted by Tighe and Bond, both the Paul Street Pump Station and the Downtown sewer service areas are near capacity. There are concerns that new development in these areas may jeopardize the current agreement with Danbury.

The Commission recommends that the Board of Selectmen and the Public Utility Commission consider revising the agreement with the DSTP to reallocate some sewage capacity from the northern area, where there is a surplus, to the Village Center, in order to support some limited additional development in the Village Center.

As the Commission revises the Zoning Regulations and considers allowing for some increases in density both in the Village Center and within the proposed Transit-Oriented Development District, both the Zoning Map and the Sewer Service Plan may need to be reviewed and amended for compatibility.

The Public Utility Commission and the Board of Selectmen are considering extending sewer service throughout the southwestern part of Town. This is in conflict with the State Plan of Conservation and Development, which has identified this area as rural land and a conservation area.

Therefore, the Commission recommends that the Town work to resolve this discrepancy and clarify the State Plan of Conservation’s designation of this area of Town before moving forward with the proposal to sewer the southwestern part of Town and/or to propose or allow any additional development in this area.

In 2006, the Public Utilities Commission conducted a sanitary sewer system capacity evaluation, with the assistance of the engineering firm of Tighe and Bond. That report identified a number of recommendations, many of which the Commission endorses.

A number of recommendations address concerns about the potential for exceeding the flow limits agreement. The Commission recommends that the Board of Selectmen and the Pubic Utility Commission pursue those recommendations.

Another important recommendation is to develop a system to monitor redevelopment and build-out within the sewer service areas in order to evaluate the impact on wastewater flows and available capacity as development in the Town proceeds. The Commission supports these recommendations.

That report also recommended that the PUC evaluate and potentially upgrade the flow meters at the Payne Road Meter Chamber, the Berkshire Pump Station and the Plumtrees Road Pump Station. The Commission supports these recommendations.

Actions for Ensuring Adequate Sanitary Sewer Services

1. Update the sewer service area limits to ensure that areas of Town where new sewers are planned are within the sewer service area and are consistent with the State Plan of Conservation and Development.

2. Consider requesting an adjustment to the inter-municipal agreement with Danbury to shift capacity from the northern area to the southern area.

3. Develop a system to monitor redevelopment and build-out within the sewer service area in order to evaluate the impact on wastewater flows and available capacity as development in the Town proceeds.

4. Evaluate and upgrade, if necessary, the flow meters at the Payne Road Meter Chamber and the Berkshire Pump Station.

5. Evaluate options for upgrading or replacing the Plumtrees Road Pump Station.


The following text is reproduced from the 1997 Bethel Plan of Conservation and Development, Section 6.0 entitled "Water and Sewer Utilities", on July 8, 1997:

6.1 Existing Conditions, Sewers: Sewer lines serve the entire downtown Bethel area, Francis Clarke and Berkshire Industrial Parks, Hoyts Hill and the Route 6 corridor (completed 1991-92). In the downtown area, the sewer service area is virtually coterminous with the water service area. Currently these areas and all other non-sewered areas are serviced by on-site septic fields.

Pursuant to a 1993 court order, the Danbury Sewage Treatment Plant processes the sewage generated in Bethel’s serviced areas. The Bethel Waste Water Treatment Plant was converted into a large pumping station. This eliminated the contamination, and improved quality of the Still River, as well as rectified the overcapacity problems during rainstorms.

The Danbury plant was enlarged in order to accommodate Bethel’s needs. As it stands, maximum capacity of the Danbury plant is 1.8 million gallons a day. Bethel contributes 1.1 million gallons a day.

6.1 Future Needs, Sewers:
In February 1995, Greiner Engineers produced a study on the feasibility of extending sanitary sewer service from the Route 6 trunk sewer to R-20 and R-30 residential areas north and south of Route 6. Six potential service areas were investigated: Vail Road, Old Hawleyville Road north of Route 6, Benedict Road, Payne Road, Oak Ridge Road, and Colonial Drive.

In total, about 1,250 lots would receive sewer service at an estimated cost of $12,500,000 or about $10,400 per lot. The study found that about 80% of the study areas has soils that are severely limited for septic field utilization and septic tank absorption fields, and another 10% is moderately limited. Indeed, the area reported 152 septic failures between 1975-1995, or nearly 13% of the area’s lots reporting failures. The failures are largely due to the local clay soils and the one-half acre lot sizes. Thus, the report concluded that the Stony Hill area could be sewered and probably should be. However, at present, there are no active municipal plans to undertake this program.

In addition to planning new sanitary sewer systems, the town can designate areas outside the service areas for sewer avoidance. Development here would be subject to on-site solutions and stringent oversight by the town.


Both Bethel’s 1979 and 1984 updated Plans of Development recommended consideration of the extension of municipal sewer service into the Stony Hill and Plumtrees neighborhoods. In 1989 the City of Danbury agreed to the construction of the Stony Hill sewer extension along Route 6, to flow to the Danbury treatment facility. The project has a construction cost of approximately $2.0 million and was approved by Bethel voters in 1989.

The Stony Hill sewer line is designed to carry 0.6 MGD from the Stony Hill area of Bethel and 0.4 MGD from the Hawleyville Section of Newtown to the Danbury sewage treatment plant. This sewer service expansion project was not mandated by CT DEP to abate sewage pollution problems but rather to serve as an stimulus to planned economic growth. Future sewer service areas in Bethel are identified by the figure entitled, Town of Bethel Sewer Service Areas.


The Bethel sewage treatment plant (2003 Note: since redesigned to be a pump station to the Danbury Sewer Plant) located on Paul Street was constructed in 1965. This plant provides a secondary level of treatment which discharges chlorinated effluent into the Sympaug Brook. The Sympaug flows northward into the Still River in Danbury and from there northward through Brookfield into the Housatonic River in New Milford. The plant was designed to process1.0 MGD and the present flow is approximately 1.0 MGD.

The historic CT DEP mandate to Bethel has been to bring Sympaug Brook up to a B water quality classification, either by upgrading the present Bethel plant to advanced secondary treatment levels or to abandon the plant and pump collected sewage to the Danbury sewage treatment plant.

Bethel concluded that the best long range solution for treatment of municipally collected sewage was to purchase a share of the expanded capacity of Danbury’s sewage treatment plant. In 1989 Bethel agreed to spend $12.1 million to purchase 2.0 MGD of capacity in the expanded Danbury plant. The existing Bethel plant will be disassembled and redesigned as a sewage pump station connecting to the Danbury plant (since completed).

Danbury-Bethel cooperation for sewage treatment predates the current treatment plant merger. In 1979, an intermunicipal agreement allowed the Bethel treatment plant to accept 0.075 MGD from the Coalpit Hill area of Danbury. Danbury in return agreed to accept the sewage from the Berkshire Industrial Park located in northern Bethel. This successful arrangement was geographically convenient and has proved to be mutually satisfactory for both communities.

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