Archive for the ‘MWRA’ Category

It’s All About Conserving

The following information is taken directly from the Reading Patch online news:

Reading Water and Sewer Rates to Rise in September; Bills Depend on Use by Nadine Wandzilak

Conservation does save money.

The town’s water and sewer rates are up, to take effect with this coming September’s bill, but the amount that individual bills will increase depends on how much water each resident uses – and how much he or she conserves.

The Board of Selectmen last month approved an 11.4 percent increase in the combined water and sewer rate.

People look at the water and sewer rate as how much more they’ll pay, Assistant Town Manager for Finance Robert LeLacheur told Patch. But your bill equals the rate times your usage, he emphasized.

And Reading as a whole does conserve water, LeLacheur said. The town uses less water, per person, he said, than many communities with it in the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority system.

With questions and comments about the rate increase posed to Patch, LeLacheur spoke with us yesterday about the effect of the rate increase on bills.

The median combined water and sewer bill in Reading right now is $1,200, LeLacheur said. If people who pay that amount use the same amount of water in the coming year, they would pay 11.4 percent more, or a total of $1,338. But if they reduce their water use by five percent, they would pay $1,270, he said. If they use 11 percent less water this coming year, LeLacheur said, their bill would remain $1,200.

The water and sewer rate picture has a number of moving parts. If people use less water than officials anticipate, the town collects less in its water fund. That’s why the selectmen voted last month to use $200,000 from a water reserve fund, and the same amount from a sewer reserve fund, to keep the rate from increasing more significantly next fiscal year.

The funds are also down, LeLacheur told the selectmen, because people are paying their water and sewer bills on time, reducing the fee the town collects on late payments.

The water rate will rise from $8.27 per 100 cubic feet to $8.96 per hundred cubic feet; the sewer rate, from $8.57 to $9.80 per hundred cubic feet.

People have also commented to Patch on the taste and smell of the water, which has been coming from the MWRA since May of 2006.

At that time, the town turned to the MWRA to help meet peak summer water demand, according to Peter Tassi, supervisor of the town’s water quality and supply.

The town started to buy all of its water from the MWRA, instead of the Ipswich River watershed, in September, 2006, Tassi said.

Tassi said he didn’t receive calls about the smell or taste of the water then, or recently.

The smell and taste of the water can change, he said, for several reasons.  Hydrant flushing, for example, which started recently. Or water line flushing, which is done every spring.

Or when the water comes from an open reservoir, like the MWRA supply, rather than underground, as from the town’s former local water source. When the open water gets cold, it becomes denser, and sinks, Tassi said, and water from the bottom of the reservoir rolls up to the surface. Some people are more sensitive than others, he said, to those changes.

MWRA To Begin Consruction of Water Storage Tank in Stoneham June 1st

MWRA to Begin Construction of Water Storage Tank in Stoneham June 1 – By Mark Ouellette

Work on the Spot Pond tank project is expected to get underway June 1, according to Town Administrator David Ragucci.   

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is expected to begin construction of the Spot Pond water tank June 1, according to Town Administrator David Ragucci.

“They will be working on that tank until the completion date, anticipating compeltion of the tank sometime in the fall of 2014,” Ragucci said during Tuesday night’s Selectmen’s session at Stoneham Town Hall. The MWRA has said they expect to complete the project in late 2014, according to a press statement.

Addressing Safety

Stoneham police have met with several agencies about the traffic in and around the construction site, including State Police, Department of Conservation and Recreation, MWRA and the Department of Transportation’s Highway Divisions, according to Ragucci.

“There’s going to be a lot of truck traffic coming in and out of that property for quite some time in removing the dirt, and then bringing cement trucks back in to fill the container,” Ragucci said. “The truck route is going to travel through Stoneham down to the (Middlesex) Fells, North Road, South Border Road to get up on (Route) 93, and then they would be coming back that same way.”

Selectman John DePinto said he wants to make sure the area stay safe while construction vehicles are working in town.

“I would like our police department, if we have the resources, to make sure those roads remain safe,” DePinto said. “No overweight trucks, no speeding. Those trucks, when they’re loaded, they go (fast) and that’s a busy roadway…and you don’t want to get in an accident with one of those trucks, especially when the cement starts coming in.”

What’s Being Built

The MWRA is constructing a 20-million-gallon water storage tank and pump station behind the site of the former Boston Regional Medical Center on Woodland Road in Stoneham, reads th statement.

“The new water storage tank is required to meet state and federal drinking water regulations and MWRA’s goal of providing at least a one-day emergency supply of stored water,” reads the statement.

The underground, concrete tank will provide water storage for MWRA’s Low Service area, which includes Charlestown, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford and Somerville, according to the statement. The pump station will provide system redundancy for 21 communities currently served by the Gillis Pump Station, including Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester and Woburn, the statement adds.

“When the project is completed in late fall 2014, the design calls for upland meadows to be planted on top of the buried tank, which would provide additional open space and public access adjacent to the Fells Reservation,” reads the statement.

Who is Doing the Construction?

MWRA’s contractor, Walsh Construction Company, is currently completing site preparation before beginning construction, according to the press statement.

When is Excavation Happening?

The project is expected to required “considerable excavation” for six to eight months during the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the statement.

“Once the excavation is complete, truck traffic will decline, but appropriate public safety measures will remain in place,” reads the statement. “MWRA and Walsh Construction have been working closely with the Massachusetts State Police and the Department of Conservation and Recreation to develop an efficient and reliable traffic management plan to ensure the safety of the drivers and pedestrians using the adjacent roads and streets.

“A designated truck route has been established, and message boards and signage will be placed along Woodland Road to guide travelers.” 

Throughout the construction period, access in and out of the Woodland Road Medical Building will be limited to the south driveway, reads the statement. The north entrance will only be accessible to construction vehicles, according to the statement, and signage will be put up at the entrances.

The MWRA will provide regular updates on its website, according to the statement.

Reminder for those in the MWRA – RE High Fells Reservoir in Stoneham

The MMRA is reminding everyone – not to swim in at the High Fells Reservoir in Stoneham. Please read below.
Summer is here and with the warm weather, people head to the local swimming hole to beat the heat. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority wants to remind residents that swimming is not allowed at the High Fells Reservoir in Stoneham.

MWRA’s primary concern is public safety. The Fells has many rock outcroppings and swimmers who are tired or hit their heads while diving are a long way from emergency medical help. The facility is not staffed and there are no lifeguards on duty. There have been fatalities at this site in the past and more recently at nearby Spot Pond.

Protection of the public water supply is also critical. The covered storage tank was constructed as part of MWRA’s $1.7 billion program to modernize the water system, and was put into service in 1998. This facility provides the drinking water for Melrose, Saugus, Stoneham, and Wakefield. However, the open reservoir, constructed in 1899, still serves as an important component of the MWRA’s emergency water supply system.  In an emergency situation, the reservoir could be put into service as a drinking water supply in a very short time. Swimmers and dogs in the water pose a real threat to water quality.  

The MWRA recognizes that the Fells is a valued recreational resource in the area and has worked closely with local communities over the years to maintain a balanced use of this beautiful site that allows accessibility while protecting the public water supply. Illegal swimming has resulted in vandalism, damage to fencing, trash left at the reservoir, and fires.

The MWRA has asked the Massachusetts State Police to increase their patrols of this critical facility during the summer. The MWRA also needs the help of local residents to ensure public safety and protect public health.

Please call the MWRA’s 24-hour Security Hotline at 877-697-6972 to report swimming or any other harmful behavior.

Cap Wells and Permanently Give Up Reading’s Right to Draw Water from Ipswich?

The following article appeared in the Reading-North Reading Patch (author Nadine Wandzilak).  Reading opted to give up getting their water from the Ipswich and instead joined the MWRA due to cost concerns to build a new water treatment plant. 

Likelihood of using Ipswich water ‘zero,’ town manager says.

Should the town permanently abandon and cap the wells that used to draw water from the Ipswich River Basin before Reading joined the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) for its water and razed its water treatment plant?

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is “interested in making permanent the inability of Reading to withdraw water from our former well fields in the future and, therefore, to maintain, at the very least, the current health of the river,” according to a memo from Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner to the Board of Selectmen.

Beyond the wells, the town would have to permanently relinquish its right to draw water from the river basin.

Two members of the state agency spoke with the selectmen last week.

“The potential use of the wells is,” Hechenbleikner wrote in a memo to the Board of Selectmen, “very remote.”  That’s because the MWRA is operationally strong, he wrote, in responding to emergency issues. “The likelihood of Reading taking water out of the Ipswich,” he said, is zero.”

If the town ever had to use the wells in an emergency, the water quality would be poor, according to the town manager – maybe even undrinkable. With the former water treatment plant now a field, the town would need approval – and a significant amount of money – to build a new one. The cost: $20 to $30 million, according to Deputy Regional Director of the Northeast Regional Office of MassDEP Eric Worrall. Going to the MWRA for its water is less expensive than building a new water treatment plant, Hechenbleikner said.

The town has kept the wells because the state environmental agency required them as an emergency water supply.

“That means that the pump station had to be modified at significant cost and the wells had to all be kept operable,” according to Hechenbleikner.  The town has not spent “a lot of money” to keep the wells operable.

Over the life of the town’s Capital Improvement Plan, “we will spend significant funds to recondition the wells at an estimated cost of $75,000” for each of nine wells, according to Hechenbleikner.

“It drives me crazy” to spend money on “a system with no value,” he said.

The Ipswich River is much healthier since Reading stopped withdrawing its public water supply, the town manager said. But “it is still an endangered river.”

Hechenbleikner suggested that the town abandon the six wells with the least favorable water quality immediately, and the three with the most favorable water quality when the MWRA’s back-up water supply is connected and operating, in two to three years.

The selectmen took no action on the issue. They were concerned, they said, about permanently giving up the right to draw water from the river. Several said they were concerned that other communities will take the water Reading is not drawing from the river. No, said the DEP representatives, and new, stricter water withdrawal regulations are coming, said Beth Card, assistant commissioner of MassDEP’s Bureau of Resource Protection.

If the wells are abandoned and the town takes no more water from the river, the need for an aquifer protection area ends, commented Worrall.

Comment by Joan Parcewski, realtor – Should other towns consider a similar move?  Would it be more cost effective than building new and maintaining individual town water treatment plants?  It is food for thought. 

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