Proposal: Support planning and funding for sewer infrastructure to support affordable housing.


  • Fact Sheet
  • Proposed language
  • Deeper Dive into the Proposal from Open Communities Alliance (coming soon)
  • Status: Concept only, no legislative vehicle

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    Sewer infrastructure is important: The most cost-effective and environmentally sensitive way to develop housing is in compact communities, which could be urban, suburban or rural. Sewer infrastructure is critical to allowing for such smart development.
  • Water Pollution Control Authorities: 128 towns in Connecticut have sewers, either by connecting into another municipality's system or by using their own. Towns that don’t yet have sewers have the ability to connect to neighboring systems. Communities that have created a Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) pursuant to CGS Sec. 7-246 also create a water pollution control plan.

Proposal Details

  • Under this proposal, WPCAs would include in their sewer planning a vision for accommodating a portion of their region’s need for affordable housing, equal to at least a third of the number that comes out of an ongoing study led by the state and due by the end of 2024.
  • Once this planning and accompanying municipal zoning changes are completed, municipalities would be eligible for funding to support sewer development and expansion, including technical assistance support. Growing Together recommends at least $50 million be invested in this fund annually.
  • Developers of affordable housing could also access this funding to support sewer expansion.
  • “Affordable housing” is defined as developments of at least 10 non-age-restricted units, with 20% of those units restricted as affordable at 80% of median income and including at least 2 bedrooms.

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Sewer Basics

  • All construction needs infrastructure: roads, power lines, internet connections, and, of course, waste disposal.
  • There are two main options for waste—a connection to a large sewage system, serving multiple communities, or a septic tank, which typically serves one property. There are also community septic systems, which can handle higher volumes of waste but can be expensive.

Promoting Affordability

  • One of the most cost-effective ways to generate more affordable housing is through greater density in multifamily homes, which can be homeownership condos or rental apartments.
  • At the same time, some towns in Connecticut have for many years used lack of septic hookups as a reason to avoid building multifamily housing, saying they can’t support the needed density.
  • Multifamily homes can be built using septic. The waste generated by a four-plex, for example, could be comparable to a large single-family home.
  • But if you have something that generates a large enough volume—that could be industrial, commercial, or multifamily residential—a connection to a sewer system is usually required.

Supporting the Environment

Sewer systems are generally better for the environment. Septic systems can break down over the years, and each property owner is responsible for its upkeep. Some Connecticut towns on the shoreline have faced fines over pollution from septic tanks.

Conclusion

Connecticut faces a major housing crisis. But in many cases, when new units are proposed, towns will turn down the plans by citing a lack of infrastructure. This proposal will let towns tap into state funds to extend sewer lines, engage in sound planning, allow new housing to be built, protect the environment, and promote affordability.

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