Delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to stymie completion and deployment of the wastewater treatment facility under construction in Buzzards Bay. The treatment plant was to be completed by mid-March. A revised work schedule shows it not being completed until late April 2021.
Robert B. Our of Harwich is the company contracted to install the facility. An October 26 letter from Damon A. Burchill, the company’s project manager for the wastewater treatment plant, notified the town that “the project completion date has slipped a further 23 days.”
The revised work schedule now shows a completion date for the facility of April 28, 2021.
In his letter, Mr. Burchill said he was informed by Kubota USA, manufacturers of the membrane bioreactor for the treatment plant, of continued product shipping delays due to employees contracting COVID-19. In addition to the pandemic problems, Mr. Burchill said, manufacturing has been hampered by inclement weather with regard to the coating.
“This work is an outdoor application and humidity dependent,” he said. “These delays will impact the start of the metal building installation and all subsequent work relative to the building install.”
The delay was addressed during a remote meeting on Monday, November 9, of the Bourne Wastewater Facility Design and Building Committee. Corey Repucci from Weston & Sampson told the committee that shipment of the equipment from the factory is expected to take place November 30.
“The plan is they’ll have a week of transit time,” Mr. Repucci said, “and the intent is for [Robert B. Our] to start installing that equipment December 7.”
The $9.7 million facility is being built on a site near Queen Sewell Park and adjacent to the new Bourne Police Department station. The new wastewater plant has been cited as key to the renaissance of the downtown business district.
Under a current intermunicipal agreement, Bourne is permitted to send 200,000 gallons of wastewater a day to the treatment facility in Wareham. Much of that amount has been allocated, which has prevented new businesses from opening in Buzzards Bay.
The new treatment facility will increase wastewater capacity in Buzzards Bay by 100,000 gallons a day. That increased flow is expected to open up business opportunities in the town’s Growth Incentive Zone.
At the Annual Town Meeting in May 2017, the voters approved $335,000 of borrowing for design and planning for the Wastewater Facility. At the Special Town Meeting in October 2017, residents approved $6,558,000 of borrowing for the construction of the facility. The Sewer Enterprise Fund will pay for $2.4 million of the borrowing for the plant.
Also in October 2017, the town received a $1.5 million MassWorks grant from the commonwealth. An amendment to the MassWorks grant for $300,000 has since increased the grant amount to $1.8 million.
The project has also been awarded a $2.336 million federal Economic Development Administration grant. Both the MassWorks Grant and the federal grant will reduce the amount paid by the taxpayers.
At Special Town Meeting in May 2019, residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of the town appropriating $2.8 million of additional funding for the treatment plant for a total approved project budget of $9,693,000.
A condition of the MassWorks grant was that the project be completed by June 2020. In 2020 the town requested and was approved for an extension to June 2021, but given COVID-19 delays on delivery of some equipment, an additional extension for the completion of the plant might be requested.
The project was also approved for Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s state revolving fund financing for up to $4,660,410, including $329,965 of contingency. The state revolving fund provides zero-interest funding during construction and low-interest, long-term financing.
Committee chairwoman Mary Jane Mastrangelo asked if the Economic Development Administration grant had any requirement relative to operations and maintenance of the facility. Grant consultant Sharon Gay said the agency wants to see an agreement in place with an operations and maintenance firm before final payment is released.
Mr. Repucci said Weston & Sampson will be the ones to issue an operations and maintenance manual for the facility to the town. However, the manual issued will probably have holes in it that the DEP will want to know about—primarily the staffing plan for the treatment plant, he said.
The DEP, he said, will want to know who the town will hire to haul the facility’s sludge away, where that vendor is located, as well as an approved water laboratory to monitor the quality of the wastewater.
“All of those things are typically handled by the operations and maintenance firm that you will select to run the facility,” Mr. Repucci said, “so we won’t have those answers in the initial draft until you guys get an operations firm on board.”
Ms. Mastrangelo suggested that the committee schedule a meeting with the Bourne Board of Sewer Commissioners and other town officials to determine which body will be responsible for securing a contract with an operations and maintenance firm.
“We need to come up with a game plan of how this is going to work and who’s going to do what so that we’re not working at cross-purposes and we’re working together to get it done in a timely fashion,” she said.