Roof fixes, new boilers, sewer system get millions

Oct 24, 2022
It was Infrastructure Night at Town Meeting on Monday, Oct. 24. 
 Six million dollars to replace a 2-mile sewer main. Four million for engineering work to prep for replacing two aging pieces of the sewer plant. Two million to redo sewer pipes serving the Swifts Beach neighborhood. One and a half million for roof replacement at the Middle School. More than $2 million to replace boilers at the High School.
And that list doesn't even include new police cars, harbormaster communications systems and more.
Not all the money will come from tax funds. Officials stressed that grants and low- or no-interest loans were available. 
But there was virtually no argument that not doing the work would open the door to much more expensive emergencies in the future.
The 1.9 miles of sewer main, which stretch from Narrows Pump Station to the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility, are severely deteriorated, said Control Facility Director Guy Campinha.
“If we don’t line it or replace it,” he said about the pipe which carries all of Wareham’s sewage to the Control Facility, “then what’s gonna happen is that the sewer’s gonna go into the river and create a catastrophic environmental impact.”
Campinha said that two pieces of the Control Facility, the clarifier and the headworks, are in dire need of replacing. The clarifier, as the name suggests, clarifies wastewater by removing solid waste and fat. Campinha called the current clarifier “inadequate.”
“It is no longer able to treat the flow,” he said. “It is too shallow, it is ancient and outdated and it no longer serves its purpose.” 
The headworks building is the place where raw sewage from homes and businesses enters the plant. At the headworks, all grit, sand and non-flushable items are removed. The high levels of hydrogen sulfide present in the sewage have caused severe structural damage to the building.
“The equipment no longer works inside that building,” Campinha said. “The electrical components are corroded.” 
Thanks to the town’s vote Monday, the clarifier and headworks will have $2 million each for engineers to evaluate the sites, make new designs for them and decide whether they should be demolished, rehabilitated or enlarged. 
The Swifts Beach sewer pipes will be changed from a gravity sewer line, which allows sewage to naturally flow downhill, to a low-pressure sewer line which uses pump stations to move the sewage. Low-pressure sewer lines do not have joints. Instead, sewage flows in a straight line, reducing the possibility of leakage. Campinha said that the current pipes on Swifts Beach are leaky. Not only does sewage leak into the groundwater, but groundwater enters the pipe which is designed specifically for sewage. The contaminated groundwater will then go into the ocean, estuaries and bays, creating what Campinha calls “an environmental nightmare.”

The town also voted to approve Town Administrator Derek Sullivan’s Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Plan, which authorized $450,000 for seven new police vehicles and $250,000 for upgraded, repaired and replaced streetlights.