TIVERTON — By a unanimous vote Monday night, Tiverton’s seven member Wastewater Management Commission (WMC) approved an over-200 page plan that calls for sewering much of the north end of Tiverton by the year 2020, at an estimated cost of $71.74 million.
The plan goes to Tiverton’s Town Council next Monday night for its approval, which is anticipated, thence to be forwarded to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
Currently, about 550 Tiverton households are hooked up to sewers. The plan calls for an increase up to 4,000 connections.
The Wastewater Facilities Plan Update plan responds to federal and state mandates that the town clean up the water that flows into Mount Hope Bay.
The Rhode island Cesspool Act of 2007 requires all properties in town within 200 feet of the shoreline to replace all cesspools by January 2014.
There are an estimated 240 properties affected by the cesspool phase-out in the area proposed ultimately to be sewered, says John Lincourt, Tiverton’s wastewater superintendent.
But the imperative to address the cesspools issue is not alone driving the plan to sewer.
Two outfalls along the shore in Tiverton’s north end — one near the base of Kearns Avenue in the so-called Robert Gray outfall area, and the other at the base of Summerfield Lane, have been found to be contaminated with fecal bacteria commonly associated with failed septic systems, says a 2011 DEM study.
The recommended solution, outlined in the updated plan the council will have before it at an upcoming meeting, calls for the creation of a sewer district that encompasses all the multiple areas in Tiverton’s north end that eventually will require sewage treatment, and the priority sewering of the three areas most in need of remediation.
Those three areas are the Riverside Drive/Stone Bridge area, the Bay Street area, and the Robert Gray area.
Other lower priority areas within the sewer district are the Church Street, Garden Heights, Lepes Road, Mill Street, and North Stafford Road areas.
The plan recognizes that some people may wish to install onsite septic systems, which are generally considered more expensive than the sewering alternative. Areas within the proposed sewer district would vote which alternative their area would opt for.
After DEM review of the plan, the sewer district proposal would go to the legislature for approval.
After legislative approval, if that should occur, the management of the Tiverton septic system would transfer from the town to the sewer district, which like the two fire/water districts in town would operate and raise revenues to operate the sewer system.