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Springfield Water and Sewer Commission launches $115M to build pump station, Connecticut River pipe crossing project

May 20, 2019
In The News

SPRINGFIELD — Local, state and federal officials gathered Monday to launch a $115 million water infrastructure project along the Connecticut River that officials say will protect the drinking water supply and the river.

The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission held the groundbreaking ceremony for the project, which includes a new pumping station on York Street and a new river pipeline crossing, along the Connecticut River in the city’s South End.

The new pumping station will replace a 1938 facility. The increased capacity will reduce combined sewer overflows by 100 million gallons in a typical year, said Josh Schimmel, executive director of the Water and Sewer Commission.

Three new pipes under the Connecticut River will join a 50- and 85-year-old pipes, Schimmel said.

The project is part of a $1 billion, 20-year master plan for infrastructure improvements to the regional water and wastewater treatment system, Schimmel said.

"And this is all extremely necessary investment," Schimmel said. "The cost of not doing this work is far more than the cost of actually doing it."

The project is funded primarily through federal Clean Water Trust State Revolving Fund loans administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection, and will create approximately 150 construction jobs, officials said. A $100 million low-interest loan from the revolving fund was critical for the project, Schimmel said.

The pumping station and river crossing project, expected to be complete by 2022, will reduce river pollution, renew aging infrastructure, provide resiliency and system redundancy, and jobs, officials said.

The pumping station will serve customers in Springfield, Ludlow, Wilbraham and Longmeadow.

Officials including U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said the project enhances water quality, water protection and the environment.

Neal praised the efforts of state and federal agencies and local workers, who year after year protect the state’s water and wastewater system.

"Contrast that with the nightmarish story that took place in Flint, Michigan where good people began to drink bad water only to find deaths, diseases, all because of the decision to embrace thrift rather than to embrace a long-term commitment that is necessary to maintaining the quality of the water supply," Neal said.

Others praising the project in Springfield included: Deb Szaro, acting administrator for Region 1 of the Environmental Protection Agency; Martin Suuberg, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; and Mike Gorski, regional director for the state DEP.

Szaro said that beyond the enhancements for the environment and water quality, the project serves to promote tourism and economic development. Much of the work is underground and unseen, “but so critical,” she said.