Officials: Wareham sewer rates won't rise for $10 million project

Apr 20, 2018

A costly, critical sewer line repair won’t raise ratepayers’ bills officials said before voters will be asked to fund the project at the April 23 Town Meeting.

The project calls for relining a reinforced concrete pipe that runs for 2.2-miles from Swifts Beach to behind the Narrows pump station. At nearly 50 years old, Wareham Board of Sewer Commissioner Chair Jim Giberti said the pipe is nearing the end of its life expectancy. Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility Director Guy Campinha said if the pipe fails, sewage will leak into nearby wetlands, causing a environmental disaster and costing the town millions of dollars in cleanup.

Relining the pipe could cost up to $10 million. To pay for the project, officials will use $5 million from savings and borrow $5 million. That should help garner support from voters at Town Meeting, said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan.

“With these reserves, you can mitigate the expenses,” Sullivan said. “We’re up against a constituency that’s getting hit left and right."

At Town Meeting, voters will be asked to authorize spending $2.5 million from the sewer department’s saved revenue account and $2.5 million from its capital appropriation account, which is set up to fund infrastructure improvements.

Campinha said that right now there is $5.7 million in the saved revenue account and $5.9 million in the capital appropriation account.

He noted that official quotes haven’t been received for the project. Early estimates indicate the project could cost as much as $9.2 million, but could be less. Unused funds will be returned to the respective accounts if the project costs less.