Swampscott spends an additional $1.8 million to keep sewage out of the ocean

SWAMPSCOTT — Town officials are moving on to the second part of a $10.7 million, eight-year project, which is aimed at cleaning up sewage discharging onto King’s Beach from Stacey Brook.

Gino Cresta, department of public works (DPW) director and assistant town administrator, said the town has put the current $1.8 million phase of the project out to bid. Companies have until Thursday to respond.

The problem is that sewage is discharging into the ocean at King’s Beach at the Lynn-Swampscott line. Two separate outfalls have Lynn and Swampscott discharging right next to each other. Sewage is getting into the drainage pipe and then goes into the ocean.

The project is needed to keep the town in compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consent decree, that requires the town to eliminate non-stormwater pollutants from entering the town’s drainage system.

“We want to make sure this beach is something we can celebrate, not something that tops the list as one of the worst beaches in the Commonwealth,” said Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald. “That’s an issue we can solve and we need to work together as cities and towns but (also) as a Commonwealth to enhance the environmental legacy our Commonwealth has to the region.”  

In May, Town Meeting approved $2.2 million for Stacey Brook sewer rehabilitation. The work is for the second part of the first phase of the project.

Phase 1B of the Stacey Brook Comprehensive Sewer System Rehabilitation Project includes cured in place pipe rehabilitation of approximately 17,400 linear feet of sewer mainline and 180 service laterals, along with 1,200 vertical feet of sewer manhole rehabilitation and rehabilitation of 16-split wall manholes, according to a Central Registrar advertisement soliciting bids for the project.

In 2016, Town Meeting allocated $2 million for Phase 1A of the project, which entailed replacing damaged pipes in the ground so they could be relined. Cresta said the compromised pipes that were replaced are now ready to be relined, which is part of Phase 1B.

For manhole rehabilitation, Cresta said the town has combined manholes that support both the underdrain, which is groundwater, and the sewer. He said there’s a wall in between that separates the two in the manhole, which is compromised. Work will be done to seal off the wall to prevent the sewer from entering the underdrain.

Cresta said the underdrain has the capability to go either to the ocean or the town’s sewer pump station on Humphrey Street, which then gets diverted to the sewage treatment plant in Lynn. Now, he said, it’s all being diverted to the sewer pump station because of the contamination — because the sewer lines are compromised, the sewage is leaking into the underdrain and mixing with the groundwater.

“The goal is to have the underdrain go back out into the ocean,” Cresta said. “If the groundwater wasn’t being contaminated, we could send it out into the ocean.”

Cresta said the town is looking to contract a company that specializes in cured in place concrete — there’s only a handful of companies in the country that do. Once a company is selected, he anticipates work will begin late next month or by the middle of September and take six months to complete.

Phase 1 of the Stacey Brook project includes four phases, which, when adjusted for inflation, will cost $10.7 million over eight years. Town Meeting members will be asked to approve $2 million every other year for the project.

Cresta said the last two parts of the project will entail basically the same work as 1B, but will be in different parts of the Stacey Brook drainage area.

The project is relining sewer mains and replacing sewer infrastructure that is more than 100 years old.

“It goes without saying that ideally, we don’t want any raw sewage discharging out onto King’s Beach,” Cresta said. “So, by relining the sewer mains, in theory, (it) will keep all wastewater in place as it gets down to the pumping station instead of leaching into the drainage pipes.”

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