For former New Milford Sewer Commission chairman Bill Johnson, Tuesday was a special day.

At age 82, the former longtime town official saw the fruition of decades of work on the commission, as the official groundbreaking for expansion and upgrade occurred at the town's Wastewater Treatment Facility on West Street.

"I'm very happy to see this happen. I came on the commission in 1993 and we had a lot of projects along the way, all geared toward expanding capacity," Mr. Johnson said. "This is something we've worked for, for 15 years."

The $21.96 million project was approved by voters in August.

With 22 percent of the project paid for with federal stimulus money and 2 percent interest loans from the state, the project came in some $8 million below projection.

The project will meet the needs the town for the next 20 years, said Ken Bailey, sewer plant supervisor. The work will be done by Carlin Construction and Contracting of Waterford.

"It's been a long time coming," Mr. Bailey said. "People don't understand that even as well as you maintain things, stuff gets old and worn out and has to be upgraded. Technology changes so quickly these days: this upgrade is needed, as is the expansion."

State Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-30th) attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

"When I go around the district and ask people if stimulus dollars have mattered in their community, I don't often get the response I've gotten here in New Milford," Mr. Roraback said.

"New Milford has benefited because your mayor was first in line and this project had been so well thought out, she was ready to act when the money was available," he said. "A dollar has finally trickled down from Washington."