Wareham Fire District to vote on $12.5 million treatment plant

By Matthew Bernat | Mar 07, 2017
A public information session on a proposed $12.5 million water treatment plant is set for Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

Voters at the April 10 Wareham Fire District Annua Meeting will be asked to approve $12.5 million to build a state-of-the-art water treatment plant to eliminate iron and manganese, a mineral that discolors water and may cause health issues.

Additionally, Fire District officials are seeking approval for a $5.5 million item that would install a system which would use ultraviolet disinfection to reduce bacteria and the amount of chlorine used to treat water.

Aware that water users may balk at the cost, the district is spreading the word about the proposed projects via mail, sending an informational newsletter to every water customer in town.

Wareham Water Department Superintendent Andrew Reid said he hopes customers will review the information and show up with questions at a public workshop. The session is set for Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in the Wareham Town Hall auditorium, 54 Marion Road.

According to Reid, the new plant will go a long way toward meeting state requirements related to reducing the level of manganese in the water. If levels aren’t reduced, Reid said the Department of Environmental Protection may issue a consent order, forcing the issue for the district.

The second item would pay for the installation of a granular activated carbon filter to remove synthetic organic compounds, which are a result of clandestine dumping and agricultural activities near the wells, according to Reid.

Should voters approve the $12.5 million agenda item, Reid said users will see an increase on their bills. Reid noted the average customer uses 53,000 of gallons every six months. The bill over that time period is roughly $300. Building a plant will add approximately $70 to that bill. If both articles are approved, Reid said the average user's bill over six months would increase by about $110.

“Dollar wise, it’s not a lot,” said Reid. “If this is what the voters want we can have better quality water and peace of mind.”

To view the mailing, click on the link below. For more information or questions, contact Reid at 508-295-0450 or visit facebook.com/warehamwater.

Comments (46)
Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Mar 07, 2017 12:30

"Dollar wise, it's not a lot". REALLY???? Adding 30-40% to your average bill is not a lot?? For the money ratepayers are paying now, they should have clean water! Check the average bills on Towns around us and if they provide clean water, not under EPA scrutiny, for the same taxrate? Even Onset provides cleaner water for the same price. Let's get with it folks!

Posted by: Hairy Buttz | Mar 07, 2017 12:33

Wow that's super pricey!

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 07, 2017 12:47

Average bill will increase by $110 over 6 months. For me that is a 100% increase.  This needs to be stopped. Matthew can you please post the date of the vote so ratepayers can have a chance against the Water District Machine? Thanks

Posted by: bob | Mar 07, 2017 15:21

Are you kidding...Why don't you people do some cuts in your medical that you people get...The ratepayer is getting WATERED again...Vote NO Ratepayers........

Posted by: District Water Superintendent | Mar 07, 2017 16:03

I would encourage you all to come out to the workshop which is on Thursday, March 16 at 7 pm at the High school auditorium and ask questions.  We are going to go over the proposed major warrant articles the history behind them, associated facts, and potential water rate impacts.

As a correction, and I am working with Matt to update, there are two major warrant articles.  The first one will be for iron and manganese removal as well as disinfection.  That warrant is proposed at $12.5M.  It is associated with regulated water quality parameters that have direct health risks and is recommended by the Board of Water Commissioners for approval by the voters.

The second article is for $5.5M and addresses the removal of synthetic organic compounds detected in the aquifer that are associated with clandestine dumping and/or agricultural activities.  This issue has potential health impacts.  The Board of Water Commissioners believes this to be a choice of the public whether that part of the project moves forward or not.  Hence no direct recommendation from the BoWC other than to present the issue, propose a solution, and allow for the voters to make the decision.

The District meeting is April 10 at 7 pm at the high school auditorium. Again, all are encouraged to attend.

As usual, the door to my office is open.  Feel free to stop in to ask any questions you may have before the meeting.


Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 07, 2017 16:17

What is the date and hours of the vote so we can stop this?

Posted by: Knocked for six | Mar 07, 2017 17:38

Time to get a well

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Mar 07, 2017 20:35

Or a water filter, Knocked.


I'm sensing a pattern here.  Not long ago we were told we all needed to register our chickens because the big bad state MIGHT some day require the town to destroy domestic birds because we MIGHT some day face an avian flu apocalypse.  Now the big bad state MIGHT some day issue a consent order which MIGHT require the water district to reduce minerals which MIGHT be effecting our health.


Heck, the engine in my old truck MIGHT blow up any day.  Maybe I should run right down and go into debt to buy a new truck, just in case.


And why should we be paying cleanup costs for agricultural contamination?  Maybe the corporate farms that did the contaminating could pay their own cleanup costs.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Mar 07, 2017 20:48

Sphere - The District meeting at which votes will be taken on the $12.5 million and the $ 5.5 million agenda items is April 10 at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium. There will be a "public workshop' at which water customers may ask questions about the agenda items Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Mar 07, 2017 23:29

I believe Andrea Smith provided this water rate survey the last time this came up.  It is very informative.  Check it out at http://rates.tighebond.com/.  In 2014, annual water cost in Massachusetts towns ranged from $112 to $1566 with the average at $531.  Given the fact that the state average has likely risen since 2014, Wareham is currently about average.


I just wanted to share those facts.  I do not wish to share my opinion tonight.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 08, 2017 06:18

Thank you Andrea

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Mar 08, 2017 09:27

Yikes!! This is a lot to ask of the taxpayers. Sure, everyone likes clean water but are there no grants or federal funding that could be applied for to offset the burden to the taxpayers? My water bill would go from about $300 a year to $500 a year. That's better than 60% increase.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Mar 08, 2017 09:57

Regarding Federal funding...in general that's very much an unknown these days. If I remember correctly Trump put a 90 day freeze on EPA funding (I think even on projects already underway) to allow time for the department and it's budget to be evaluated. In addition the suggestion that EPA budget may be cut by 33% or more has been in the news. Decisions based upon the potential for EPA funding, should not be made at this time.

Posted by: Beachbum0715 | Mar 08, 2017 10:10


Posted by: Kress | Mar 08, 2017 10:20

Solutions?  Sounds like the state might get involved by issuing a consent decree (judicial mandate) to settle the issue.  Wareham will have no choice.  Or, Wareham could update the pollution control facility on its own.  Hopefully, with grants.


If the State views this as a public health issue, I doubt it would settle for people using in-home filters. It seems then, that the only way for Wareham to comply with the "anticipated" consent decree which would ensure that all citizens are protected under the decree, would be for Wareham to update its facility.  Don't know how we got to this point, but it's better to make proactive decisions now (and start the search for grants), than for the State to come in and mandate their preferences.  Maybe we need another clean water committee.

Posted by: Hairy Buttz | Mar 08, 2017 10:41

The Water in Onset isn't that great I can testify.To be honest the aftertaste is left to be desired. You can drink from the Tap in Boston and it's better than a bubbla...for realz. I don't mind paying extra if it's worth it.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 08, 2017 11:34

My electric bill will be cheaper than water. This is big government looking to take your more of your money. If they didn't spend so much on trucks and duplication of services we could have already had better water. If things are so bad why isnt there a cease and desist on drinking tap water? Why are agricultural activities polluters not made to either stop or pay for this plant?

Posted by: District Water Superintendent | Mar 08, 2017 11:55

Response to one of the questions above.  The Fire District has applied for and been awarded a low interest loan (e.g. 2% rate) from the State Revolving Fund which is managed by MassDEP and funded through US EPA.  The low interest loan also has a forgiveness component which essentially is a grant and determined at the end of the construction of the project.  In round numbers the forgiveness portion historically has been typically 3-4% range of the project worth, but can vary from year to year.  The application is good for one year, so a positive vote is required to obtain the low interest loan with forgiveness.  Otherwise, we lose the loan and would have to re-apply next around and hopefully be awarded the loan again.  Loans are provided on competitive basis based on need within the Commonwealth.   As noted above, the future outlook for funding sources such as this through EPA in the near term looks bleak so our timing in the award is good.  There is discussion in congress for infrastructure funding, but not clear what the funding criteria will be at this time or what requirements would be needed to obtain funding.  For example the recent WIFIA funding which  has garnered much attention has a 40+/-% match to the community or private investor as Congress has been looking to leverage tax funds....

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Mar 08, 2017 12:43

Hey beach bum, thanks for offering to pack my bags, but I'll stick with my own opinion and vote on the matter! But I'll be voting AGAINST this scam. There are always a few of you that it obviously resonates with to just 'go with the flow' and accept the punishment. Not this time. For the size budget of Wareham Water, we should have clean water without having to introduce a hike of 30-100% of our current bills. We aren't at the bottom of water rates in the State, so it's not as if this hike is needed to bring up us to 'average'. The hike is needed because we let a separate municipality operate water in our Town. Two municipalities (Onset as well) for the record. So, in the size of Wareham, with two independent multi-million dollar budgets combined, we can't get clean water?? It's time the rate-payers finally do something about this. For now, we can vote it down. Going forward, we need to scrap the district system or make them follow Prop 2-1/2 in their bylaws.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Mar 08, 2017 14:15

Absolutely correct! Thanks Doc!

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 08, 2017 14:48

Anyone know what Onset Waters manganese level is. If its low do away with the districts and just mix the water to an acceptable level

Posted by: Chaka | Mar 08, 2017 23:33

This might be a fire dept issue instead of a water issue, but speaking of over-inflated costs and TWO different districts....What exactly are the prudential committees for? Are these 3 or 4 people paid a salary?  I know they get full health insurance from the town. How much does that cost? What do they do? Why do we need them? Are they really necessary?

Posted by: Zephyr | Mar 10, 2017 23:37

CHAKA, I agree with you.  I have always wondered why we are paying the Prudential Committee full health insurance.  I may be wrong but I was told that after someone is on the committee for so many years that they keep the insurance for life.  If it's something in our bylaws then it should be changed.  No one that I know of gets free full health insurance.  They need to pay their share like the rest of us.  How can we correct this?

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 11, 2017 09:31

I will keep it short and to the point, the way to solve these many issues is to do away with the district system. I have said it many times before, the districts had their use many many years ago but things have changed since then. Please do your part and vote this down.

Posted by: Chaka | Mar 12, 2017 20:19

Time to merge the districts, time to stop the duplication costs, time to do away with the Prudential Committee and time to make the cranberry industry pay their fair share of pollution costs.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Mar 12, 2017 22:49

I agree.

Posted by: Zephyr | Mar 15, 2017 10:39

I received my news letter today and when I opened the envelope there wasn't anything inside.  Great job guys.  See you on April 10.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 15, 2017 14:26

This mailing could have been mailed with the water bill rather than spending ratepayer money on an additional mailing.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Mar 15, 2017 20:23

Zephyr - There's a online link to the mailing at the bottom of the above article, just beneath the bold type words "Related Information:" Hope this helps (print wasn't very clear on my computer screen.)

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Mar 15, 2017 20:47

Important reminder for Wareham Water District Customers: Thursday, March 16, 2017, 7 p.m., Town Hall Auditorium, public information workshop covering $12.5 million and $5.5 million water treatment proposals due to be voted on at the April 10 Wareham Fire District Annual Meeting. Bring any questions you may have.

Posted by: felinesmom | Mar 16, 2017 00:04

Over on the Wareham chit chat Facebook page, a couple of posters stated they received reverse 911 calls saying this meeting has been moved.  Town website is down; water dept website says nothing.  Can someone confirm this meeting is still on and where it is being held?

Posted by: District Water Superintendent | Mar 16, 2017 11:14

This is a quick note that the workshop will be held today (Thursday March 16, 2016) at 7 pm at the Town Hall auditorium, not the High School auditorium.

Posted by: District Water Superintendent | Mar 16, 2017 11:15

Also, for latest posting check Wareham Water's Facebook page (search under Wareham Water).

Posted by: baron1701@yahoo.com | Mar 16, 2017 13:52

I moved to Wareham a year ago and now my Water, Property Tax and Eversource bill look to be increasing dramatically. The inexpensive nature of small town living really appealed to me. I cant wait to see how much my dump sticker costs in a few years. I don't drink the tap water and would be more than happy to filter my water if needed. Most of my usage goes into my newer Septic system where the Clean water doesn't really matter. I cant wait to pay for Sewerage improvements that I wont use.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Mar 16, 2017 14:20

If you live in the Wareham Water District and have questions or concerns regarding the proposed water purification plant please attend tonight's meeting. If attending is impossible tonight's meeting is impossible, please call the Water District and speak with  District Superintendent Andrew Reid or, if you prefer, arrange a time to stop in and speak with him. I discussed a long list of questions with Mr. Reid during an appointment this morning and am so very glad that I took the time to do so.

Posted by: cranberry scoop | Mar 22, 2017 22:40

I think more effort should go into holding the adjacent bog owner responsible for polluting our wells, and the 12.5 million would go a long way toward paving and upgrading all the unaccepted roads in town.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 23, 2017 09:53

To even look for the District ratepayers to pay for this before fully holding the offending party accountable is obscene.

Posted by: Kress | Mar 23, 2017 12:38

There is no way that I, as an Onset resident, would want to merge with Wareham Fire District and have our waters blended.  That's like saying, "Hey Onset, we're gonna take your water, but don't worry we'll give you something equal to ours. Yuck."


Or is it -- "We'll take more than half of your water for our own needs and leave you with what's left for yours.  Hope you don't run out."


No, Thank you.

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 23, 2017 15:16

So let me get this straight...

If I dump gasoline on the ground and it kills the flowers in my neighbor's yard to the left of me I can expect that the neighbor across the street will be responsible for replacing the flowers ?

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Mar 23, 2017 16:52

My guess Cranky Pants is that you'd be charged with vandalism, fined for the cost of the damage you'd done, and thoroughly embarrassed by the amount of media coverage you received as a result of your actions.

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Mar 23, 2017 18:16

Cranberry Scoop, get real.  Let's say that your plan was feasible and we had the 12.5 mil to spend on updating roads, etc.  This town would pay 12.5 mil for a "study" first.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 24, 2017 07:36

Cranky, That is exactly what the water district is trying to do here. The Rate payers would be the neighbor across the street. Andreas solution is what should be pursued by the Water district

Posted by: PMB | Mar 24, 2017 11:09

One thing to keep in mind during this discussion, is that there are two separate and distinct issues here.  The first is whether to build a treatment plant to remove manganese and iron from the water, at a cost of 12.5 million dollars, the second is to add a cleansing process to remove traces of chemicals for an additional 5.5 million.  The manganese and iron are naturally occurring compounds that appear to be in ground water throughout the entire aquifer.  The issue of the trace chemicals (SOC) is a separate issue entirely.  We seem to be mixing the issue of the 12.5 M treatment plant with the problem of the SOCs in this discussion.


Voters will be asked to fund the manganese and iron removal treatment plant (12.5M) first.  If that vote passes, the voters will then be asked to consider the additional 5.5M treatment plant to deal with the SOCs.  If the first vote fails, there will be no need for the second.


The issue of a possible connection between the cranberry bogs and the clean up of our water, responsibility for the problem, etc., really has nothing to do with the main issue, which is to rid the water supply of the naturally occurring manganese and iron which is the main focus of this proposal.  That's why, I assume, the Water Commisioners have endorsed the 12.5M proposal for the manganese treatment plant, and have left the additional treatment facility at a cost of 5.5M completely up to the voters, with no endorsement.


One final thought, combining or eliminating the water districts, fighting with the bog owners over pesticide use, and complaining about the cost of water, etc..etc..will have absolutely no effect on the level of manganese and iron in the water.  It occurs naturally, and will be in the water no matter who pumps the water out of the ground.




Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 25, 2017 08:44

Anyone with a Google button can clearly see that manganese is found in fertilizers that are used for herbicides. I'm not saying all the manganese in the soil is from cranberries...

I'm just stating a fact.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | Mar 25, 2017 13:19

PMB you couldn't be more wrong. Find me another town around us with such a sever manganese problem that they need to foot the bill for 12+ million dollar treatment plant. Let's not pretend that the proximity of the bogs to the well isn't a huge problem because it is.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 25, 2017 19:00

I don't have the report with me, I thought that i read that the manganese problem is only in a couple of wells and has only spiked recently. Would it not make sense to take those offline and or drill 2 new ones elsewhere?

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