High Sewer Bids Bring $2 Million in Additional City Borrowing

Haverhill City Councilors will be asked to give their approval tonight to borrow another $2 million toward the ongoing “phase two” of federal-mandated Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) upgrades at the wastewater treatment facility in Bradford.

Councilors placed the latest loan order request on file two weeks ago, according to their March 8 meeting minutes. If approved, it would bring the price tag for the phase two project to comply with federal Clean Water Act mandates, to more than $14 million since 2014.

“This project was originally funded by the loan order approved in November, 2014, as part of the Phase Two CSO program. The new loan order is necessary because the actual design costs and construction bid exceed the funded amount in the November, 2014, loan order,” Deputy Public Works Director and Water Superintendent Robert E. Ward said in a letter, dated March 4, to Mayor James J. Fiorentini. “The project is required to be completed under the consent decree issued to the city.”

Annual loan payments on the $2 million would be $125,000 over 20 years, beginning in fiscal year 2018, Ward said. Costs would be borne by wastewater ratepayers.

As WHAV reported earlier, the Haverhill City Council, in 2014, approved a total $12.1 million dollars in borrowing, including a $5.2-million-dollar loan order in  November, 2014 and, earlier, a $6.9 million loan in April, 2014, for Phase Two of the project for added capacity to treat storm water runoff.  Heavy rain conditions can cause the storm runoff, along with untreated sewage, to be discharged directly into the Merrimack River.

Since January, 2015, the city has been eligible to receive as much as $16 million in low-interest, two percent loans through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, administered by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, according to Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Also, two months ago, the city announced it reached a negotiated, “judicially enforceable” consent decree with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to produce new long-term plans to meet the unfunded mandate after the agency rejected a plan drafted five years earlier.

“When the city did so five years ago EPA rejected that control plan as not being sufficient to minimize these flows to the greatest degree possible. And that resulted in their decision to proceed with negotiating a judicially enforceable consent decree under the Clean Water Act,” the city’s environmental Attorney Michael Leon said at the time.

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., tonight, in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

One thought on “High Sewer Bids Bring $2 Million in Additional City Borrowing

  1. Ok, so what will the final cost be for this project ? Do we have a number ? Why is it always that the REAL figures are NEVER known until it is too late to do anything about it ?? Typical political way of stuffing this up our rear ends !