HAVERHILL — After upgrading water and sewer lines along Kenoza Avenue and a number of side streets, including Lawrence Street, the city is planning on more improvements and will get help from grants and a low interest rate on borrowing.
Assistant DPW Director Robert Ward said the city recently completed two of three phases of water and sewer improvements and now plans to enter phase three, which will require borrowing $5.9 million for water line improvements and $6 million in sewer improvements.
Both amounts are after calculating in cost reductions from state grants.
Phase two of water and sewer upgrades were paid for by loans at a 2% interest rate, Ward said, while phase three borrowing will be at 1.5%, thereby saving the city thousands of dollars in financing costs.
Water line upgrades will be paid through water user rates while sewer line upgrades will be paid through wastewater/sewer user rates.
"When we borrow the money, we will have to increase the rates," Ward said. "Based on the average household, the rates would increase by $4 per year for water and $4 a year for wastewater/sewer. We project the increases will not go into effect until 2023."
The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust informed city officials that the planned improvements are eligible for State Revolving Fund financing on this year’s Intended Use Plan.
Financing is through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a joint federal-state financing program that provides subsidized loans to improve and protect water quality and public health in the Commonwealth.
"One loan will be for water system improvements and another is for sewer improvements," Ward said. "The city council and mayor approved the loan orders and now we need to finish design plans and submit to DEP for approval."
Mayor James Fiorentini said the city is always looking for ways to improve and update its infrastructure and is always seeking new funding sources.
"This $13 million project in the Lawrence Street and Kenoza Avenue area will bring improved water and sewer service to that area for a century," Fiorentini said. "This funding lowers the cost for our rate payers. We work hard to upgrade our infrastructure, but we are also cognizant that the rate payers of the city do not have unlimited pockets to pay for this. This funding helps us to get the work done and still keep our rates affordable."
Ward said that once the design plans are approved, the city will put the project out for bid, with construction taking place as early as next spring.
He said the planned water and sewer upgrades have been in the queue for a few years and the city had other higher priority work to be done.
Ward said a grant of $900,000 through the Drinking Water Trust will reduce the amount to be borrowed from $6.8 million to $5.9 million, while a sewer loan grant of $426,000 will reduce the amount of that loan from $6.4 million to about $6 million.
"And we'll see more savings on the lower interest rate," Ward said. "We've already done some good work and this helps us continue that work."
Water improvements include replacing and upgrading 12,650 linear feet of aging cast iron water mains in the Smiley Avenue, Manners Avenue, Frances Street, Russell Street, Montclair Road, Primrose Street, Merrimack Street and River Street areas. The water main improvements will include new, 8-inch through 16-inch cement-lined ductile iron pipe, new valves and hydrants, and replacing water service connections to property lines.
Sewer improvements include installing approximately 4,900 linear feet of new PVC sewers to replace sections of failing sewer mains in the Montclair Road, Smiley Avenue, Manners Avenue, Race Street, Fourth Avenue, Pentucket Street, Maple Avenue, Moore Street, Green Street, Merrimack Street, Elliot Place, and Washington Street areas. The work includes replacing manholes and reconnecting sewer services.
The sewer improvements also include repairing a failing 54-inch combined sewer at the Washington Square Transit Station with cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining.