Sewer department to request funds for two coastal repairs

Mar 23, 2022

The town’s sewer department will request funds at Town Meeting to complete two major projects that would strengthen some of the Wareham’s most vulnerable coastal infrastructure.

Jim Giberti of the Sewer Commission presented the two projects, located in Swifts Beach and Merchants Way, at Tuesday night’s Select Board meeting.

In Swifts Beach, the sewer lines are 17 feet deep and damaged beyond repair, due in part to pressure from sump pumps, Giberti said.

The department is proposing replacing the current system with a closed station that will cut down on inflow and infiltration — that is, groundwater and seawater that makes its way into the sewer system. Currently, some pipes are underwater all the time.

This new system would cost $3 million — the same as replacing the less-functional current system.

That cost would also pay for the installation of grinder pipes on each of the 130 homes affected. Now, when people flush “flushable” wipes, they tend to build up and clog pump stations, Giberti said. Grinder pumps would prevent that and keep any flushable-wipe-related damage — or damage from other improperly flushed materials — at the home.

Select Board member Jim Munise asked about the recent failed relining of those pipes in 2019. Guy Campinha, the Water Pollution Control Facility director, said that that project failed because residents did not disconnect their sump pumps — which are against town laws — while the new lining was curing. 

The second major sewer project to be up for a vote is the lining of the force main from the pump station at the Narrows to the Water Pollution Control Facility on Tony’s Lane off Sandwich Road. That project will also cost $3 million — down from an initial estimate of $8 million, Campinha said.

“That’s a pipe that’s been in the ground 50 years,” Giberti said. “It’s still operating at the moment, but we never know when something like this will let go. And the time it’s been in the ground, the corrosion that we’ve found on it — it’s only a matter of time.”

Both items will be up for a vote at the April 25 Town Meeting.