Three months and four miles of pipe cleaning later, flooding risk in Ward 2 has been diminished thanks to sewer and drain line cleaning, along with remote camera inspection, completed on Oct. 3 by National Water Main Construction (NWMC), contracted by the City of Somerville.
After meetings between Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston and Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone’s office about infrastructure needs in the area, NWMC contracted with the city to undertake the cleaning and inspection in two sections of the city’s collection system starting July 8. A majority of the work was done in Ward 2 to identify potential causes of long-term flooding problems in this low-lying (in terms of elevation) section of the system. This portion of the project cost approximately $175,000.
Work took place on Washington St. between Beacon St. and the Argenziano School, Dane St. between Somerville Ave. and Washington St., and Dane Ave. between Dane St. and Washington St.. Catch basin laterals along Dane Ave. were also cleaned in an attempt to minimize flooding in that area. Approximately four miles of pipe network was cleaned and inspected.
The cleaning and inspection operation revealed debris in the lines ranging in depth from 6 to 18 inches, with pipe sizes ranging from 8 to 30 inches, as well as the presence of boulders and other obstructions. These debris depths represent an approximate reduction in pipe capacity of 30 to 50 percent and the presence of boulders can reduce capacity even further.
Approximately 220 tons of debris was removed from the system, and NWMC encouragingly found that the system in that area appears structurally sound. Cleaning these water mains helps restore the capacity to improve overall conditions in the short-term, mitigating the risk of flooding in Ward 2.
“Infrastructure work sometimes doesn’t get as much attention as our investments in education, innovation and above-ground improvements like streetscapes, but it’s a critical part of making Somerville a great place to live,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We are taking a prudent, careful approach to improving our utility infrastructure with both short-term maintenance like this and long-term projects that will build the modern infrastructure to protect our homes and property.”
In the long-term, the city has selected international consulting firm Parsons Brinkerhoff for a wide-ranging utility and roadway improvement study in Union Square. The $700,000 design and pre-engineering study will address the utility problems in the area and help the city identify the best solutions for mitigating flooding in the area in an environmentally sensitive way.
“Much needed infrastructure improvements are about our residents’ quality of life and, in this case, are critical steps to addressing flooding in Ward 2,” said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston. “We held ‘flood forums’ beginning in 2010 to highlight the need for the city to fix this problem quickly and also plan on a long-term solution, and I thank the city for listening to Ward 2’s needs and stepping up to fund this work. It’s a pragmatic investment in Ward 2’s infrastructure that provides both immediate relief for our residents, and the knowledge we need to properly plan for coming infrastructure improvements.”
(press release from the City of Somerville)