Published in the November 4, 2016 edition

MELROSE — City officials are going after Melrose’s water infrastructure in an effort to keep your bills down.

Last month the aldermen backed a plan by Mayor Rob Dolan and his administration to fix leaks and cracks in water and drainage pipes.

“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,” Dolan stated in a release.

“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 managing our debt and clearly allowing taxpayers to see a return on their investment, while 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,” Dolan said.

The mayor continued that the city will fix the problem this way:

1. Over the course of the spring of 2016, the DPW engineering office and their consultant evaluated the entire city’s sewer system withy meters that now allow us to analytically identify where inflow and infiltration is highest.

2.The city has 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 the city’s investment. The work will begin immediately.

3. “With each phase,” Dolan said, “Melrose’s overall total sewer flow and daily peak flow will be reduced, thus benefitting ratepayers.”

The project is estimated to cost about $2 million.

City Engineer Elena Proaki-Ellis explained: “Having addressed the city’s more immediate water, sewer and drainage needs over the last decade, inflow-infiltration is the next logical step in improving the city’s infrastructure. With 75 percent of the funding offered as a grant from the MWRA and only 25 percent requiring repayment at a 0 percent 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.”

John Scenna, superintendent of public works, said, “The sewer system in some areas of Melrose is over 100 years old. 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.”