2008-10-09 / Front Page

Town wins prestigious PISCES water award

By Adrienne Downing

Members of the Water Pollution Control Association's champion competitive wastewater operators' team demonstrate putting a sleeve on a leaky pipe at Monday's press conference. Photo by Adrienne Downing Members of the Water Pollution Control Association's champion competitive wastewater operators' team demonstrate putting a sleeve on a leaky pipe at Monday's press conference. Photo by Adrienne Downing The efforts the Town of Jamestown has made to improve the town water and sewer infrastructure have paid dividends in the form of an award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bob Varney, the director of the EPA's region one office in Boston, along with Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Department of Environmental Management Director Michael Sullivan were on hand Monday to present the PISCES Award to Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and other key town personnel.

"Jamestown in its own quiet way demonstrates leadership in the state's water industry. It is the only community in the state that recycles waste water onto the golf course," Sullivan said.

The PISCES, which stands for Performance and Innovation in Creating Environmental Success, awards were created in 2005 to recognize the extraordinary successes of the states' Clean Water Revolving Fund programs. Projects financed under the revolving fund programs support the Clean Water Act by protecting environmental health and water quality. The awards highlight successfully designed projects that further the goal of clean and safe water with exceptional planning, management and financing.

One award is given each year in each of the EPA's 10 regions.

"We are delighted to focus awareness on the $6.2 million complete major overhaul of the water treatment plant," Keiser said. "I think it is tremendous that the EPA has recognized the town for the town's progressive effort to move the water system into the 21st century."

Keiser said he only learned three weeks ago that Jamestown had won the award, but he was not surprised given the amount of work that has gone into the new treatment plant.

"I don't think people realize what an improvement this is for our water system. We are talking about a 15- percent improvement in efficiency with the new system. This translates to about 50,000 gallons of water per day that will not be lost," Keiser said.

Improvements to the plant include a new membrane water filtration plant to replace an older facility, as well as the replacement of over 7,000 linear feet of water distribution piping.

He said the work would not have been possible without the low-interest debt financing through the revolving fund.

"Because the work on the water system is absorbed almost entirely by water customers, being able to have the debt financed through the SRF at such a low rate amounts to a substantial savings," he said.

Although water customers are sometimes frustrated at having to absorb the cost of the upgrades, Keiser said the improvements work in their favor.

"With the debt service on the water and the sewer improvements, the total cost to the customer over 20 years is approximately $1,000 per household per year. In comparison, just to upgrade to a new ISDS system at a cost of an average of $30,000 per system, not including a new well, works out to be over $2,000 per year," he said.

The award could have future implications for the town as well.

"Winning the award shows we have done well with the money they have loaned us," Keiser said. "It is a very competitive process to get the loans and the manner in which previous loan projects were carried out and the results are taken into consideration when the state prioritizes the next round of projects."

He said capital improvements to the water system, including re-lining all of the distribution pipes, are planned for the next eight years.

The new water treatment plant is on schedule to be completed in the spring, Keiser said.

Middletown was also recognized at the ceremony for its innovations in the sewage treatment area.

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