Voters approve two sewer upgrades

Apr 26, 2022

A small crowd of voters at the second night of the spring Town Meeting voted to approve spending a total of $6 million on two major upgrades to coastal sewer infrastructure.

“We have to do something down at Swifts Beach,” said Sandy Slavin, Sewer Commissioner. “Our sewer lines are 17 to 18 feet below the surface.”

That depth means that the pipes are under water all the time — leading to high levels of clean water being absorbed into the system. That clean water then mixes with sewage and needs to be cleaned at the Water Pollution Control Facility. 

Alan Slavin noted that residents discharging sump pumps into the sewer lines have long been  causing problems. 

Water Pollution Control Facility Director Guy Campinha explained that the grinder pumps that will be installed at each home are not designed to absorb the high level of flow created by sump pumps. If a sump pump is used, that will set off an alarm, which will trigger a visit from sewer employees. That visit will come with a cost, which Campinha said will hopefully eventually convince homeowners that illegal sump pump use isn’t worth the hassle.

The cost of both projects will be paid back over time by the sewer department through its usage fees.

The second major sewer repair will reline the force main — or pressurized pipe — that connects the pump station at the Narrows to the Water Pollution Control Facility, which is located off Sandwich Rd. about 1.9 miles away.

Guy Campinha explained that the pipe would be relined using an unusual process where a kevlar and rubber lining is pulled through the pipe. 

Campinha said that the pipe, which has been in place since 1972, has significantly deteriorated.

Sewer Commissioner Peter Dunlop said that sewage from a large swath of town — from Cromesett to the High School and beyond — travels through that pipe. If it breaks, Campinha said, the cost would likely bankrupt the sewer department and would be very costly for the taxpayers.

Officials have estimated that the lining would have a life expectancy of 50 to 100 years.