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In Warren, Wastewater Management falls into two categories:
sewered properties and unsewered properties.
Wastewater from sewered properties is conveyed directly through pipes to the
Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) on Water Street.
Wastewater from unsewered properties is pumped from individual sewage disposal systems (ISDS) by a truck and brought to the WWTF for treatment and disposal.
Visit the Wastewater Management District page
for more information on unsewered properties.
Warren Wastewater Treatment Upgrades
Where is Warren’s Wastewater Treatment Facility?
Warren’s Wastewater Treatment Facility is located on Water Street, in the area south of Wheaton Street and north of Longwharf Drive. Wastewater is pumped to the site through 10 pump stations located around Town. An average of between 2.53 and 3.43 million gallons per day of wastewater is received and processed by the plant. Treated water is discharged to the Warren River. Sludge, the byproduct of treatment, is processed and stored on site, with final disposal occurring at an off site location.
What are we doing?
The Town of Warren is currently undertaking a major upgrade to the existing Wastewater Treatment Facility. With the support of the Town Council, funding for this project gained voter approval as part of the November 8, 2016 ballot. The total funding request totals $20 million. For the owner of a home at the median value of $216,100, this would add $23.04 per month or around $0.76 per day to the tax bill. The tax rate impact, including financing costs, is expected to total $1.28 per thousand. The Town is continuing to pursue any additional funding sources that could lessen the impact on the tax rate.
Why are we doing this?
To keep up with environmental regulations that protect water quality, the Town of Warren must upgrade its wastewater treatment facility, both the process by which sewage is treated and the equipment needed for that purpose. The facility was originally built in 1940 and last underwent major renovations in 1981. The mechanical and electrical equipment has passed its expected useful life and is not able to meet environmental standards established by a state discharge permit.
In 2011, Warren negotiated and entered into a Consent Agreement with the state, which described the steps the Town will take to meet the state’s environmental standards, and gave the Town time to come into compliance with its new permit. The treatment facility upgrades are, in other words, legally required by federal and state law and regulations, and by a binding Consent Agreement. Failure to comply with this Agreement would result in costly fines, penalties and legal fees.
Who has designed the upgrades?
The Town of Warren has engaged the engineering firm of Woodard & Curran, which has acted as the Town’s consulting engineers for all things sewer related for many years. Woodard & Curran is a leader in the field of wastewater treatment, and has designed the project based on the most current regulations and technology. As an added protection to the taxpayer, the Town Council authorized a third-party “peer review” by the engineering firm Wright-Pierce. Wright-Pierce thoroughly reviewed the design at the 30% stage and made recommendations to further increase efficiency and cost effectiveness. This process, often called “value engineering”, has resulted in several adjustments that will help make the project as efficient, cost effective and long-lasting as possible. In addition, because the site of the facility is vulnerable to flooding, the Town has made a special effort in recent months, working with its consultants and with regulatory agency staff, to make sure we are using the best and most recent scientific data and modeling of storm and flooding scenarios, so that the design will provide the best possible protection for the facility and for this big investment.
Cost, Financing and Impact on Taxes
The $20 million bond issue is based on the cost estimate developed by the consultants last year. It was approved as part of the capital budget by the Town Council and approved by voters on November 8, 2016. Although additional research and design work had to be done, beyond what was originally expected, we have managed to keep the overall cost within this limit. The Town was able to arrange for financing at a below-market rate through the RI Infrastructure Bank. In addition, the Town obtained more than $440,000 in principal forgiveness through the EPA to offset the cost of some of the "green infrastructure" aspects of the project.
The total impact on the tax rate from borrowing $20 million is estimated to be $1.28 per thousand. For the owner of a home at the median value of $216,100, this would add approximately $276 per year. In addition to capital cost, however, the cost of operating the upgraded facility is also expected to rise, which is expected to add another $0.37 to the tax rate, for a total of $1.65 per thousand.
This project will be funded through the "ad velorum" property tax assessed to all residents. However, starting in July, 2019, the Town of Warren will begin charging a sewer user fee for sewered properties and a wastewater management district fee for properties without public sewer. The fee will be a pass through of actual costs to provide services to households and businesses on an annual basis. For questions about the calculation of fees, please contact Tax Assessor Kristopher Leadem.
Major Issues Addressed by Upgrades
- Reduces the amount of nitrogen discharged which will improve water quality in the Warren River
- Makes the treatment facility more energy efficient and reliable
- Replaces old worn-out equipment
- Improves safety for treatment facility operators
- Makes the facility more resilient to storms and flooding
Visit the Construction Updates page for more information.
Key Documents (links)
Response to Draft Permit
Facility Design Basis Report
Value Engineering Report
Engineers Comments on Value Engineering Report
Design Flow Report
Presentations to Town Council
2019-10-09 Town Council Meeting
2013-10-15 Town Council Workshop Presentation
2014-09-10 Public Hearing on Facility Plan
2015-06-30 Town Council Meeting
2016-02-16 Town Council Meeting
2016-04-25 Town Council Presentation on Value Engineering
2016-09-27 Public Workshop Presentation
2017-07-11 Town Council Update