Trump tariffs increase construction bids for Wareham water treatment plant

By Meghan Neely | May 25, 2018
Photo by: Matthew Bernat In April 2017, voters at the Wareham Fire District annual meeting approved funds for a $12.5 million water treatment plant. New tariffs have driven up the cost, jeopardizing the project.

President Donald Trump-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum are raising construction bids for the new water treatment plant. According to officials, the price hike is making the project's future uncertain.

“Our bids came back about $2 to $2.5 million over budget,” Wareham Water Department Superintendent Andrew Reid said. “And no vendor is guaranteeing their prices for more than 30 days.”

The treatment plant was approved by voters in April 2017 for $12.5 million in order to address high amounts of iron and manganese found in the town’s drinking water. The latter of which has been known to cause health issues, including neurological problems.

“We’ll know by the end of the first week of June if our rebids come back under budget,” Reid said. “But if they don’t, we can’t build the plant.”

Reid said the department’s only options then would be to ask voters for additional funds during the April annual meeting or do nothing.

“If we do nothing,” Reid said, “We’ll just be waiting for the state to issue us an administrative consent order.”

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has already expressed concern for the high levels of manganese in the Wareham water district. If these levels rise any higher, Reid says they’ll be forced to build a treatment plant.

“And with an administrative consent order,” Reid said, “we’ll be forced to pay a fine of up to $25,000 for each day we don’t comply.”

In other words, the Wareham residents won’t have a say in determining the cost of the plant.

Trump announced the 25 percent tariff on steel and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum March 1, 2018, meaning any items manufactured outside of the U.S. will now be significantly taxed.

“In November, we had an engineer’s estimate for a section of pipe come in around $300,000,” Reid said. “But at bid date, that same piece of pipe was $900,000.”

Reid said the Wareham Water Department has been working closely with a contractor to try and lower the cost of the treatment plant, but there are few alternative options.

One section of pipe required by the treatment plant is 60 inches in diameter. According to Reid, the widest steel manufacturers in Alabama and Texas will go is up to 36 inches.

“There just aren’t any steel manufacturers in the U.S. making large pipe,” Reid said. “Most of what we need comes from either Europe or Canada.”

Trump had announced at the end of April that he would postpone enacting the steel and aluminum tariff for certain countries, including Canada and the E.U., but that delay expires on June 1.

“When we started this process three years ago, we based our budget off the estimates we had at the time,” Reid said. “We never could have seen this coming.”

Comments (20)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 26, 2018 08:08

Adding 25% to $300,000 sure as heck isn't $900,000.  Blame it all on the  president anyways.  Sounds like gouging to me.

Much like how 40B bullies us and strong arms us, looks like the DEP is going to do the same with their $25,000 a day fine.

Posted by: Phredzzz | May 26, 2018 13:36

You are right Wareham-BTS: Wareham Week and ALL other Media that buy this HOGWASH are not verifying their information sources and Falling into the Fake-News Trap of major Media outlets. A ten year old C-student can do the Math and figure out the Fact that no way in hell can you attribute a 25% Tariff on just the Steel part(which is probably less that 20-percent of the Total Project) can work out to a 2.5 Million dollar increase in the Bids. We expect more from our Local News Resource. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: Steve Holmes | May 26, 2018 13:45

Something is definitely foul ball with these numbers

Posted by: Phredzzz | May 26, 2018 15:19

I know this is a boring issue to a lot of people, but I want to submit one more simple Math solution from the Peanut Gallery. If you cannot buy American made 60 inch Pipe, but you can Buy 36 inch American Made Pipe, then it is time to Call the Engineer who designed the Treatment Facility and have him change the Design to a solution where they use TWO Non-tariffed 36 Inch Pipes instead. I am looking at the Pump and Electrical Control Photo above and there is NOT even one piece of 60 inch pipe in that Photo; therefore ALL of those Tariff impact-Issues must be associated with Pipe that is Buried outside and feeding the Treatment Facility. This tells me that a redesign COULD possibly be an option where there will be ZERO Tariff's connected to the Pipe Purchases and Wareham Weekly can STOP Blaming Trump for the Cost Increases on the Proposed Bids. On the Plus side, Wareham's Taxpayers will save at least 2.5 million dollars, some of which MAY be used for the additional Labor and Excavation charges to install the Extra 36 inch Pipe and associated Fittings. I think Wareham ether needs a New Designer or at the least tell them to go back to the Drawing board and find an alternative solution for this So-Called Tariff HOGWASH. Good designers/Engineers will ALWAYS find ingenious solutions if they are motivated enough to do-so!

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 26, 2018 15:50

True!  Where on the drinking water treatment side do you ever see 60" pipe!  You don't even see it on the wastewater side in major cities.  Something smells fishy!

Posted by: bob | May 26, 2018 17:05

If this article information is suppose to be correct,then I think its time to sink the WFD....

Posted by: Andrea Smith | May 26, 2018 17:09

Questions regarding the following quote from the above article:


"The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has already expressed concern for the high levels of manganese in the Wareham water district. If these levels rise any higher, Reid says they’ll be forced to build a treatment plant.


“And with an administrative consent order,” Reid said, “we’ll be forced to pay a fine of up to $25,000 for each day we don’t comply.”


Is the Water Superintendent saying that Wareham has already reached the maximum allowable level of manganese and therefore if the level of manganese increases even a microscopic amount Wareham's water will be above the allowable manganese level and a $25,000 per day fine will begin on the date the test shows the manganese level to be up that microscopic amount?


What is the current manganese level?


Based upon the last three years, what has the average manganese increase been per year?


What is the manganese level at which the DEP assigns a $25,000 per day fine?


What is the DEP's protocol/timetable for assigning a $25,000 a day fine once the DEP has been notified that Wareham's water has reached the maximum allowable manganese level (assuming it has not already reached the maximum level)?


Would the DEP's protocol allow sufficient time for a Water District Meeting to be scheduled so that water district voters could have an opportunity to give consideration to and vote upon actions necessary to prevent a $25,000 per day fine from being instituted?

Posted by: Phredzzz | May 26, 2018 18:46

ANDREA: Good points all. Specifically, why's and when's about letting the Manganese levels get to the danger point where the State will move to force Wareham to build a new Treatment Plant ?? Year after year we receive a Report from the Water Dept. stating that all of the Chemicals in Wareham's water are within mandated LIMITS and there is NO Danger for consumption. When did this issue become so important that Wareham has to take immediate actions to rectify the so-called problem ?? I hate to say it, but IF the statements are true, its sounding more and more like someone may have intentionally let this scenario become a problem with no interim solutions.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 26, 2018 19:11

Here is anther scenario, The consultants didnt know what the heck they were talking about when they put the estimate together and underestimated by a long shot and covet is being laid by using the tariff falsehood. The building is not all steel and aluminum its only a portion of the 12.5 million. Such a great jump in price cannot be justified by anyone with a straight face saying that tariffs could increase the cost so much. Here’s 2 ideas, don’t use union labor to build it or cancel the project until your “tariff” problem goes away. This whole project is only to increase the size of the water department anyhow. Do away with the corrupt district system. They are bad for wareham.

Posted by: noseyrich | May 27, 2018 06:44

I am sooooo happy to see that Wareham residents haven't been totally taken in by the fake news outlets...not to say that Wareham Week is part of the problem, buy American made pipe and fix the design. End of problem!

Posted by: Phredzzz | May 27, 2018 10:37

I will probably get Called-Out for miss-speaking above, so i will fix it now. When Talking about Manganese, I used the word "Chemicals", but I was actually talking about Mineral levels in the annual Water Report.

Posted by: ThinLizzy | May 27, 2018 14:36

Too funny or maybe not?! The math doesn’t add up, as most with basic math have noted. Kind of ‘fuzzy’ but then again it seems to be that way with our towns politics, policies and politicians.

Seriously when the financial board couldn’t even explain their own budget at a previous meeting and had to reschedule to actually investigate it kinda says it all now doesn’t it.

Here we are like fools paying people a salary or covering there health insurance and they couldn’t care less to actually do their job.

If this was a business or corporation and the financial board couldn’t explain their OWN budget they would be FIRED on the spot!! Seriuosly who goes into a meeting and doesn’t prepare? And they wonder why none of them are trusted?

On top of that here is the ‘Wareham Week’ jumping on the ‘blame our President’ band wagon.

If it smells like poo, feels like poo and looks like poo then it’s poo.....

Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 27, 2018 17:13

If one were to say that it was Trumps tariffs that raised the price of the plant, then they would also have to agree that the manganese arrived during Obamas watch causing the problem in the first place. Once again Trump will have to clean up another wretched mess Obama left. PS be sure to cancel your Net Flix account, Obama and the Michelle are getting payback from net flix for favors granted while in office

Posted by: Bpigeon | May 28, 2018 11:29

They knew of the problem 3 yrs ago but their reports to us never mentioned it being critical. The project was approved a yr ago but they are just receiving bids on the project. Last meeting an increase in rates was approved to support the operation of this plant that hasnt gotten off the drawing boards yet.

I have only one wallet, I can't afford a full time library, COA Director, a School system that can properly teach our children but I'm supposed, out of that same wallet, pay 90% of their health care, stipends and support this fiasco. Next annual mtg we have to get more people then their employees.

Posted by: brazz | May 28, 2018 12:26

Its funny how people cant explain the things with simple logic so they use their "trusted" news sources talking point to explain everything. He's been president for a year and a half. he owns everything now just like all the previous presidents. Turn off the radio/tv and think for yourself once in a while. WTF does Netflix and Obama have to do with this? time to double up on that tin foil hat spherebreaker.

Posted by: Phredzzz | May 28, 2018 15:38

Funny One BRAZ; Ha, ha, Aooooga!  And where do you get your "Trusted" News from ?  Mr. Obama BLAMED President Bush for everything that was screwed-up, over, and over, and over again for all eight years he was in Office. So; I guess you think it is OK for Mr. Obama to NEVER claim ownership, but now after 1 1/2 years Mr. Trump in your words"he owns everything". I'm thinking that your attempt at logic is the epitome of Hypocrisy !! Good luck with Your "Trusted" News Source. Its probably time for you to Channel-Surf a little more and try to become informed about reality.

Posted by: 181mph | May 29, 2018 12:34

all you fkn know it alls that have all the answers,, how come if y'all really want to change things for the town, none of you ran in the latest election,,,

Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 29, 2018 13:14

Who said we didn't 181?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 29, 2018 14:30

Yea, I don't mean to gang up on you 181, but I thought the same thing and was about to reply as I saw Sphere's comment.  We all could be anybody due to these nifty monikers.

Posted by: 181mph | May 30, 2018 13:13

LMFAO,, you really think you are anonymous because of  a screen name,,,

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