Brookfield was founded in 1778, but the first sewer system in what was historically a farm community began two centuries later in 1975. The collection system was intended to service commercial properties along the rapidly developing Federal Road spine—the main traffic corridor through the town. The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) authorized the installation of regional wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) which was established in neighboring Danbury. The southern section of Federal Road in Brookfield was eventually dubbed the “miracle mile” bringing commercial services in a concentrated area building the tax base.
In the early 1990’s the municipal sewer system was extended further up Federal Road to the New Milford border. That allowed the development of commercial properties, further increasing the tax base. It also allowed several condo communities with failed septic systems and new developments to connect from about 2005 to 2015. All four public schools were connected by 2009. Approaching 2020 several large affordable and incentive apartment complexes were built or approved. These have now taken up the remaining treatment capacity. Most of the remaining sections of Town remain in the sewer avoidance area, a designation required by the State.
According to the CT Council of Small Towns (COST), many small Connecticut towns do not have sewer capacity and infrastructure to support housing development mandated by the State. Wastewater capacity is a big concern that small towns, including Brookfield, struggle to address. In Brookfield the system is at its limit of allowable flow with projects currently approved. Consequently, at the beginning of 2022, the WPCA was forced to impose a partial limitation on new service for all except commercial buildings which have lower wastewater requirements.
Brookfield WPCA has been able to hold fees to about 10% below the state average. This has been accomplished by using an all-volunteer board, moving to a new operations center in 2017, increasing efficiency using state-of-the-art technology while holding staffing levels constant. Pump stations are constantly monitored and report electronically if something needs attention. The field staff have smart tablets that locate what is underground from a 4G wireless GIS system at any spot in Town. That same system is used interactively to create real-time status reports on demand.
The billing system has been streamlined and enhanced to include charges for grease trap and private pump station inspections to prevent backups or spills of wastewater. Manholes now have a routine inspection schedule and are in the process of being retrofitted with cover seals to prevent water inflow during large rain events.
Administration service has been enhanced by installing new computers, a new server and an electronic conference room. Billing services are increasingly automated. While the WPCA is a standalone enterprise within the Town, it does take advantage of employee resources like the administering benefits, the time and attendance program, and the View Permit program. The WPCA takes the lead on the Call-Before-You-Dig service for Brookfield.
Major initiatives are underway to develop a plan for adding sewer collection along the low-lying areas of Dean and Pocono Roads and the Candlewood Peninsula. This is a follow up of a 2019 project that shows the deep well drinking water and Candlewood Lake is heavily contaminated by septic influence. This is the subject of a $1.5 million planning project to be completed late 2022. The study includes how to handle the wastewater. New infrastructure federal grants are available to assist in funding this project that affects multiple towns in the region.
For 2022 and beyond the WPCA will focus on remediating the inflow of nutrients to rivers and lakes in Brookfield, resolving the capacity issue to lift the permit limitations and apply for grants to sponsor these projects. It will also seek to be better integrated with the land use departments in the Town and continue with strategic investments in modern equipment and technology