, Newburyport, MA

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June 17, 2014

hydrants will be replaced ON PI

City officials to hold public meeting June 25

NEWBURYPORT — City officials have brokered an agreement with the engineering firm that developed the troubled water and sewer system to Plum Island, and an assessment and remediation program focusing on hydrants is scheduled to begin in early July.

Mayor Donna Holaday yesterday said that a public meeting will be held Wednesday, June 25, at 7 p.m. at PITA Hall on the island to inform residents of the upcoming program.

The agreement marks the beginning of a project to address what appears to be fundamental construction flaws in the water and sewer system. Costs will be paid by developers, city leaders said.

Since the 2007 installation of the island’s $22.9 million water and sewer lines, several water mains have burst and widespread corrosion of connecting bolts has been discovered. The most recent disruption was in March.

Holaday has said that 147 of the island’s 187 fire hydrants will have to be fixed, and as many as 18,000 connective bolts could be corroded.

About 32 hydrants will be replaced during the first phase of the reconstruction project, Holaday said.

As the independent assessment of the system continues over the summer, more hydrants and perhaps water mains will be replaced and/or repaired.

“The first shovel could go into the ground on July 7,” Holaday said.

The city has threatened litigation against contractor CDM Smith Inc. of Cambridge, an international firm that developed the system. But Holaday has maintained it would be more feasible to work with the developer on improvements rather than engage in a lengthy legal struggle.

CDM Smith describes itself as a consulting, engineering, construction and operations company that “provides lasting and integrated solutions in water, environment, transportation and other systems.”

City officials in recent months have been meeting with representatives of the state inspector general’s office, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state attorney general’s office in a drive to compel the company to respond to apparent flaws.

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