The Woodlands, off of Woods Road in Falmouth, is home to a country club and high end homes. An attorney for residents says they are prepared to legally challenge the decision to concentrate sewer main work in the neighborhood. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

Plans to upgrade the West Falmouth wastewater system will go forward after mediation with a homeowners group opposing the $3 million project failed this month.

The new sewer line needed to bring the West Falmouth sewage system up to par would go down the middle of Woodlands Road. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

The town will approve a final design for the project this year with construction expected to begin in 2022 to modernize and expand the sewage system for current and future development. The town will pay for the project through bonds, with costs covered by sewer fees.

Much of the work involves building a new sewer line through the Woodlands neighborhood, an area of high-end condominiums and homes near the Woodlands Club. After three years of opposing the project and recent mediation that was unsuccessful, the Woodlands Homeowners Association says it will take the town to court.

The group says the town doesn’t have rights over the easement land for the work and that other routes for the sewer line would be as effective, according to its lawyer, Jonathan Brogan of Norman, Hanson & DeTroy in Portland.

“The (homeowner association) is prepared to legally challenge the Town,” Brogan said in a letter written in response to the decision. “There is no benefit to the Woodlands neighbors or the Woodlands Club for having a new and separate West Falmouth sewer line constructed through a mature private development, and there is a significant risk to the underground infrastructure during the process.”

The letter said the planned sewer line will cross over underground utilities 78 times.

The route goes up the middle of Pinehurst Lane and Woodlands Drive and out the Wood Road entrance to the private club and neighborhood.

Brogan’s letter said that the current sewer line easements do not give the town the right to construct a “new and separate West Falmouth sewer line through the Woodlands.”

Town officials say they do have the easement rights, and that the Woodlands route is both the least expensive for the town and has the least amount of environmental impact.

“We aren’t necessarily just replacing old sewers in the Woodlands, we are increasing the capacity to accommodate the growth that has occurred and will occur. All of West Falmouth sewage goes through the Woodlands right now,” Town Manager Nathan Poore said.

Seven different routes for the project were considered, Poore said, but over the past years each study has increasingly pointed to the Woodlands as the best route.

“It’s unfortunate we can’t reach agreements, but nevertheless we will continue to work with them as we get towards construction to make sure it has the least impact on them,” Poore said.

In the past, private developers would build the sewage and give the maintenance and operation responsibilities over to the town, including at the Woodlands project in 1987, according to the letter, but Brogan contends this does not allow the town to build a new separate main.

This created a long chain of sewage systems that are now being overwhelmed by continual growth.

The current sewer system has a number of bottlenecks that can lead to system failure and cannot support the increasing amounts of homes in that part of town, Poore said.

The West Falmouth Pump Station was initially built in the late 1980s, along with other pump stations and force mains at other private developments.

Falmouth’s wastewater collection and treatment system is made of 56 miles of gravity sewer and force mains, 31 pump stations, and a 1.56 million gallon per day wastewater treatment facility on Clearwater Drive. The system serves 2,480 households and businesses in Falmouth and approximately 1,100 in Cumberland.

Comments are not available on this story.