City’s ratepayers have paid approx. $50 million to stay in compliance
By Barbara Taormina
The City Council unanimously approved loan orders for a total of $11,350,000 to continue the necessary improvements to the city’s sewer system. Revere continues under a Consent Decree with federal and state environmental agencies to reduce the illegal discharge of raw sewerage into the surrounding waterways and to create a comprehensive wastewater management system.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency website article dated Aug. 25, 2010, “The Consent Decree is the result of a federal and state enforcement action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP). The federal and state complaints claim that Revere’s sanitary sewers overflowed on numerous occasions, resulting in discharges of untreated wastewater from its collection system to rivers, creeks and brooks. Revere also discharged raw sewage through its storm sewer system to those waters.”
The loan orders were broken down into separate items. The first $10,000,000 is for Phase 14 pump station and drainage improvements that will eliminate illicit discharge.
City CFO Richard Viscay spoke in favor of the loans, telling councillors that the city will apply for state loans with favorable terms. “These sewer infrastructure improvements will continue with the success we’ve had,” said Viscay.
Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto noted the new work will be hard on water and sewer ratepayers. “As painful as it is for our residents, it’s paying off dividends,” he said.
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky tried to strike a positive note and said the city is close to coming to the end of replacing the sewer part of the project.
Councillors also approved borrowing $750,000 for new equipment, specifically a cold weather vacuum truck that will be used to maintain sewer lines.
Acting Water and Sewer Superintendent Chris Ciaramella explained that the new truck will be used to help crews with sewer problems during the winter. “This will be huge,” said Ciaramella.
Another $500,000 loan for management and designing infiltration and inflow removal projects for the sewer system was also approved. The money will be borrowed from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA), which Viscay explained would benefit the city. And a $100,000 loan was approved for engineering and planning for improvements for detection and elimination of discharge of the sewer system.
Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo asked Robert Buttons of CDM Smith, the city’s engineering consultant for the sewer project, for a time frame for the sewer work. “Is there an end date when we can go back to taking care of what we have and not fixing what was broke?” asked Rizzo. “Our residents have been patient in absorbing rate increases and the work being done tearing up streets. Any idea what we’re looking at with the Consent Decree?”
“We’ve made tremendous improvements in the system,” said Buttons. “The Consent Decree mandates that repairs be finished by 2025.”
“So, in two years, the handcuffs will be off,” said Rizzo.