In a unanimous vote Monday night, the Revere city council approved $7.55 million in loans to pay for continued work to improve the city's sewage and drainage systems — part of the CY-2012 CWSRF Construction Project.
A loan order made available to members of the council stated that all or a portion of the money, with approval from the mayor and city treasurer, will be borrowed from the Massachusetts Water Abolition Abatement Trust, which was established under the Massachusetts Water Regional Authority (MWRA). Of that money, $6.75 million will be used to fund storm water and waste water capital improvements; the remaining $800 thousand will fund continued Sewer System Evaluation Survey (SSES) investigations and CCTV (video) equipment for investigations of the city's drainage systems, according to a resolution from Mayor Dan Rizzo.
During a public hearing over the issue Monday night, the mayor acknowledged that the plan is hard to ask for as “it is a very costly thing to the rate payers.” But, he added, Revere, due to a consent decree from the MWRA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), must make improvements to its drainage system, which continues to show signs of wear and inefficiency. The EPA, from a consent decree of 2010, dictates investigations, ongoing reporting, and capital improvements to the systems for a 10 year period.
Councillor Steve Reardon stated, “We agreed some time ago to go along with these plans. We don't have a choice… or face state and federal fines.”
“This is classic good-news bad-news,” Councillor Anthony Zambuto responded. “The good news: Clean up the infrastructure of the city. Bad news: It's going to be extremely expensive to the tax payer.”
Previous investigations show that, because of weaknesses in the drainage pipes, sewage is leaking into the storm water system, which them disperses into open fields. “We've got fields affected by sewage that children are playing on,” Mayor Rizzo told the council. “At the end of the day, all this money we're spending on infrastructure that has been neglected over the years will pay off.”
During a presentation on the project, Robert Button, principal engineer with Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM), told the council that sewage in the drainage system poses “a serious public health concern.” To solve the sewage problem, he added, the current system — which runs about 98 miles of piping — will need to be replaced, particularly the lining.
According to a project report, some improvements have been made. Work on the interceptor line, which runs through the heart of Revere to the Chelsea city line, began in spring 2011. Improvements have also been made to the Goldie Street pump station, Button said.
When one city councillor asked if the project will fix flooding problems on Revere and Sherman streets, Button said, “Yes, we're working as quickly as possible.” He added, “We'll be solving flooding problems throughout the city. It just takes time.”