October 22, 2014
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Oct. 30 sewer meeting
$56 million in new projects, plant upgrades under consideration

After hours of commission meetings over the operation of the Warwick Sewer Authority, and whether the city should press ahead with expanding the system, Edgar Ladouceur is ready to hear from the public: The sewer review commission chair and Ward 5 councilman has planned a public meeting Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers. Ladouceur said there would be an overview of the commission’s work followed by a discussion of options to sewers and what they would cost.

The meeting will focus on three major sewer extensions: Bayside 1, 2 and 3 in Ward 5; phase 3 of Governor Francis Farms and two smaller projects in Ward 8. Collectively, the estimated cost of the three projects is $33 million.

In addition, the Sewer Authority is faced with $23 million in wastewater treatment plant upgrades to meet Department of Environmental Management requirements for the removal of phosphorous and nitrogen and the elevation of Pawtuxet River levees to avert the flooding of 2010 that caused more than $10 million in damages.

The authority is looking to finance both sets of projects – a total of $55 million – through revenue bonds. Expansion of the system would be paid through assessments of those benefiting from the sewers. Upgrades to the treatment plant would be paid through user fees paid by all those connected to the system.

The bonds require City Council approval in order for the authority to proceed.

The commission is expected to have its recommendation to the council for its Nov. 13 meeting.

But, as of last Friday, Ladouceur didn’t see the issue of the plant improvements as being discussed at the public meeting unless the city administration brings it up. The $23 million is the subject of an ordinance introduced by the administration. {* *}

“If he wants to address that issue, that’s fine,” Ladouceur said of Mayor Scott Avedisian.

Avedisian doesn’t believe the authority has a choice when it comes to the treatment plant upgrades. He also favors sewer extensions, especially for those coastline neighborhoods that face a legislated deadline to close cesspools and don’t have the property to build septic systems.

“I hope the council acts on them [the two revenue bond issues],” he said. If the council fails to authorize borrowing for the plant upgrades, he speculated DEM would bring legal action against the authority.

“It seems to me, we have neighborhoods that need sewers and are willing to pay for it,” the mayor said.

That’s one of the things Ladouceur hopes to learn from the Oct. 30 meeting.

It doesn’t promise to be cheap either.

“There’s no free ride here,” said Ladouceur. He didn’t put a cost to assessments or how they might be levied. Presently, assessments are based on linear footage, but there is widespread feeling a per-unit cost would be more equitable. Changing the system would require enabling legislation from the General Assembly, which Ladouceur's commission is also reviewing.

One thing Ladouceur doesn’t want to see happen is for the authority to announce it won’t be extending sewers now, only to reverse course in several years.

“I’m never going to force folks to bring in septic systems and then, in three or four years, put in sewers and tell them they have to tie in,” he said.

To get out the notice of the meeting, oversized postcards are being mailed to affected residents in Ward 1, 5 and 8.

“These people have to know what’s going on,” said Ladouceur.

As for feedback, Ladouceur said, “I hope to hear ‘let’s get it done.’”

How quickly might the commission have an indication of what the public wants?

“We’re going to stay there as long as we need to stay there,” Ladouceur vowed.


Comments
4 comments on this item

Get the enabling legislation and do a per unit cost. The linear footage is stupid. Everyone in the project is getting sewers and some lots have more frontage than others. Why should I pay more because my yard is longer than my neighbors who also has 2 bathrooms. Just silly.

Why doesn't the sewer commission ever publish the sewer cost for the areas in question.......what are they afraid of ?????

it better go to the voters like the 1st one did. who getting paid off here

I just bought a house in May and had to put in a new Mound Septic system that cost $18,000. Beore proceeding I called the town to see if they were bringing sewers down our street. The woman told me it was slated for 2018, but because of an archealogical dig it was on hold. She also said that even if they find a way to re-route the sewers they had no idea when they would have the money for it. I missed the meeting because I wasnt in town but I really hope we didn't pay 18 grand for a few years. The existing system probably would have hung in there considering its based on 3 bedrooms but there are only 2 people in the house.

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