Aldermen Approve Funding for Inflow/Infiltration Project

On October 17, the Board of Aldermen approved the funding for a $2 million inflow and infiltration project, a bold initiative that I announced in my inaugural address.

We are beginning the first year of an aggressive five-year program that is the next phase in the city’s 15-year-long commitment to infrastructure improvement. By “infrastructure,” I mean parks and recreation, water flow, flooding mitigation, drainage, water quality, and fire safety and prevention, all of which have dramatically turned some of the failings of this community into great strengths. We have done it in a pragmatic manner, focusing first on quality of life, public safety, and fiscal responsibility, and have advanced to a point where we can take on inflow and infiltration on a greater level than we have in the past decade. Let it be noted, however, that this city has consistently utilized the MWRA inflow and infiltration program to its maximum capacity.

We live in a new community in 2016, one in which people are not being brought out of their homes in boats, raw sewage is no longer found in playgrounds, we have the ability to put out a fire properly in every neighborhood, and children are no longer eating lunch in school buildings that hours before were flooded with contaminated water. We have done this while properly managing our debt and clearly allowing taxpayers to see a return on their investment, either directly or indirectly, in their neighborhoods, their sports fields, and their home values. This commitment to inflow and infiltration will directly attack sewer rate increases in the city itself. Under the ground where you walk and drive every day is a sewer infrastructure which in many areas of the city is cracked and leaking.

This is how we are going to fix it.

  1. Over the course of the spring of 2016, the DPW engineering office and their consultants evaluated the entire city’s sewer system with meters that now allow us to analytically identify where inflow and infiltration is highest. Tonight you will see the results of this study.
  2. We have taken the results of that evaluation and have prioritized the most aggressive and efficient manner in which to fund and move forward with inflow and infiltration improvements that will produce the highest return on our investment. If you fund this order, the work will start immediately.
  3. With each phase, Melrose’s overall total sewer flow and daily peak flow will be reduced, thus benefitting ratepayers.

“Having addressed the City’s more immediate water, sewer, and drainage needs over the last decade, I/I is the next logical step to improving the City’s infrastructure,” said City Engineer Elena Proaki -Ellis. “With 75% of the funding offered as a grant from the MWRA, and only 25% requiring repayment at a 0% interest rate, the program is a win-win. We project that the annual cost of the loan repayment will be more than offset by the reduction in our annual MWRA sewer assessment once rehabilitation work is underway.”

“The sewer system in some areas of Melrose is over 100 years old,” said Superintendent of Public Works John Scenna. “Similar to the major focus and improvements completed by the community in regards to drainage and water system flow issues, it is the DPW’s intent to move forward with a similar, aggressive strategy.”

Our city engineer and her team, have spent a tremendous amount of time formulating this aggressive and beneficial plan for the citizens of Melrose, and I hope the Board of Aldermen will take the next step tonight with their final vote on the bond.

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