Chicopee proposes to use some federal COVID relief funds to replace aging sewer equipment

CHICOPEE — City officials have decided to spend the first nearly $2 million of Chicopee’s federal COVID-19 relief funds on water infrastructure repairs, admitting the decision is not exciting but will save residents from seeing ever-climbing sewer rates increase even more.

A committee of city officials and volunteer business representatives, formed to recommend how to best use the money, agreed an estimated $1.85 should be spent to replace 17 aging pumps for the city’s Water Pollution Control Facility. The proposal has been endorsed by Mayor John L. Vieau, who has the final say over how the money is spent.

The city has received $38 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to help with COVID-19 recovery. It has three years to decide how to spend the money and five years to finish the projects it selects. The parameters of how it can be spent include improving water and sewer infrastructure, supporting public health, expanding broadband, investing in equity-focused projects and awarding bonuses to essential workers.