2015-10-15 / News

Emergency repairs costly to sewer department

By Marg o Sullivan

A little money went down the drain over water and sewer matters in September, the town councilors learned last week.

The Town Council on Oct. 5 met as the board of water and sewer commissioners. According to Town Engineer Mike Gray, two emergency repairs forced the sewer department to pony up for unexpected expenses in September. A sensor failed in a storage well outside the treatment plant, he said, and the fire alarm at the water plant also had to be replaced. It failed during a storm.

Gray said he hated to report the issue with the wet well, which is the large storage tank connected to the water towers, but the department had to respond. Despite the bad news, there was some consolation. When the sensor failed, the operation was stalled.

“Luckily, the pumps were not pumping,” he said.

Nonetheless, the department dealt with the situation as an emergency. Besides fixing the failed sensor, Gray said, the water department installed another sensor “for redundancy.” Gray said the two sensors would give “additional assurances” about the wet well.

Also, Gray continued, two check valves in the wet well were replaced.

“Both valves were at the end of their useful life and were found to be leaking water into the distribution system when the pumps were off,” he said.

He called the repairs “a costly fix.” Although he did not specify the dollar amounts, he told the board that the expense “eats into our capital.”

In other business, two bids were received for the upcoming sliplining project. Green Mountain Pipeline Services bid $372,900 to do the work, and Insituform Technologies LLC bid $413,730.

Gray recommended giving the contract to the low bidder.

Council President Kristine Trocki noted the substantial difference between the two bids, and Gray replied he had been pleased with the outcome of the competitive bidding process. The project had to be re-advertised and rebid, he reported in September, due to a problem described as “a formality issue.”

On Gray’s recommendation, the board voted 4-0 to award the contract to Green Mountain for an amount “not to exceed $372,900.” Trocki and Councilors Blake Dickinson, Michael White and Thomas Tighe voted. Councilor Mary Meagher did not attend the meeting.

Gray said the amount would not include the cost for police details.

Cautioning that “ratepayers are not going to want to hear this,” additional work will have to be scheduled on the rest of the collection system, which is 100 years old in some sections. This slip-lining job will take care of “9,000 linear feet of sewer piping, which includes the main sewer interceptor located in Hamilton Avenue, Walcott Avenue, Conanicus Avenue and Bay View Drive.”

Gray said the project also includes lining the collection system piping in Narragansett Avenue and Clark Street.

In other business, Gray said the work installing the High Street water main had been stopped for three weeks due to the need to prioritize road paving.

Crews from the public works department and Cardi Corporation have been preparing the road for paving, he said. Once Cardi arrived to work on the paving, he said, “all our resources” had to be shifted to the roadwork. However, he anticipated that work on the water main would resume after Columbus Day.

Turning to the ongoing drought, Gray noted September was another dry month with rain falling on only two days, Sept. 10 and Sept. 30. He said the water level at the North Pond reservoir was dropping, and is currently at about 40 million gallons. Because of the dryness at the reservoirs, crews are using the time to do maintenance on the spillway, he said.

Finally, Gray noted the average daily flow at the treatment plant in September was 0.13 million gallons. On the two rain days, however, the flow rose dramatically.

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