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Watertown may let owners pay over time for sewer hook-ups

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City officials hope they can do something to help a Barben Avenue couple get hooked up to Watertown’s sewer system.

The couple, Peter J. and Libby S. Dephtereos, still rely on a septic tank in their yard at 285 Barben Ave. But the septic system needs a new leach field, which will cost about $5,000.

During a 15-minute discussion Monday night, the Watertown City Council tried to figure how to help them out and avoid requiring a neighbor to pay for the hookup if she doesn’t want it, too.

Neighbor Susan Favreau told the city she has no interest in converting her septic tank to the city sewer system after a plumber estimated it would cost her $7,000 to $8,000 to do so.

But City Attorney Robert J. Slye suggested that the city could pay the up-front costs and the neighbors could “pay over time,” much like a city sidewalk improvement program is handled.

Residents would be charged a small amount of interest and possibly could take about 10 years to pay the city back.

Mr. Slye said he plans to look into the legality of offering such a program for sewer hookups.

Council members agreed that Mr. Slye should pursue the matter.

The city’s engineering firm had said it believes that as many as 140 homes throughout the city still have septic tanks.

After the meeting, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk explained that the city would like property owners to get hooked up, but “they’re not easily accessed by sewers.”

It could cost as much as $50,000 for the city to bring sewer service to the Dephtereoses’ home and to their neighbors’ properties at 282 and 286 Barben Ave., he said.

The brunt of the city’s septic tanks, normally associated with more rural areas, are in the Sand Flats, an area on the west end between Arsenal and Coffeen streets with some of the oldest homes.

With some of the residences in that area, it could become costly because pump stations and other equipment would be required as part of the hookups since the land is so flat there, Mr. Hauk said.

Septic tanks also are a result of houses being built farther out and years after the road was built, Mr. Hauk said. Some properties may be too far from a sewer line.

There also have been instances when properties could have gained access to city sewers but the homeowners decided against it.

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