New sewer moratorium instituted as plant reaches capacity

May 2, 2022

The Sewer Commissioners have once again instituted a moratorium on new hook-ups. 

At their April 29 meeting, the commissioners met with Russ Kleekamp, an engineer from GHD. 

The commissioners reported that, after taking into account the department’s commitment and current flow, the system is currently running at more than 80% capacity. That’s the threshold that triggers a process with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Therefore, the commissioners are putting another moratorium in place. That means no new flows to the plant will be approved: No new buildings beyond those already permitted and no additions that would increase flow can be connected to the sewer.

The commissioners wrote that they were continuing to seek ways to expand capacity: Expanded groundwater discharge, a permit to discharge more treated water to the Agawam River, standalone treatment plants in select neighborhoods and the plan to discharge water to the canal.

“Until one or more of these options materialize, we have no other option but to institute this moratorium, effective immediately,” the commissioners wrote.

The commissioners approved a moratorium on new connections in October 2020, which has since been lifted. 

Back in 2020, Chairman of the Board of Sewer Commission James Giberti said that if the Department of Environmental Protection’s review of the plant was unsatisfactory, the department would have the power to mandate changes without the Town of Wareham’s input.

Giberti said he didn’t know what the Department of Environmental Protection would have mandated, and no one wanted to find out.

“All I know is I don’t want them to come in to tell us what to do,” Giberti said. “I would prefer that we stay ahead of it and do what we need to do to keep out of that scenario. Because the minute we have a third party coming in … it’s going to be expensive. More expensive than what we could do ourselves.”