The Sewer Division is responsible for operation and maintenance of the City's sanitary sewer, combined sewer, and stormwater collection systems. This work includes CCTV and direct inspection; high pressure jet cleaning of pipes; locating subsurface infrastructure for "digsafe" markup requests (to protect our system's sewer infrastructure from contractors performing utility work in the City); emergency response to system backups and storm flooding; and, responding to sewer related issues reported to the City through the 311 system.
Personal Services Changes
Personal Services are projected to increase 18% for FY22.
Changes in salaries are due to negotiated collective bargaining agreements and merit increases based on annual performance reviews.
Position changes for the Sewer department include a reclassification of the Field Operations Manager and System Analyst to Superintendent and Billing Manager, respectively. The reclassification reflects new job responsibilities and technological changes within the water and sewer industry. New positions for the department include the Water & Sewer Systems Analyst and a Primary Sewer Operator as well as new positions in Infrastructure and Asset Management . The Water Primary Operator is now fully funded out of the Water Enterprise and removed from the Sewer Enterprise fund.
Capital Outlay Changes
Capital Outlay costs are projected to increase 37% for FY22.
Changes in Capital Outlay include: an increase to the Sewer cleaning/repair line to capture needed repairs discovered by CCTV evaluation; additional funds for vehicles and equipment necessary to implement the drainage plan for the Community Path; and additional meter installation funds to replace meters prior to the City-wide replacement project geting underway.
Ordinary Maintenance Changes
Rental of laydown area to save costs on construction contracts is built into this budget. Additional changes include: an increase to Repair and Maintenance (R&M), Vehicles to maintain backup Sewer vaccum (aka Vactor) now 15 years old; increase of rubbish removal line to dispose of additional rubbish resulting from higher sewer repair activity; increase in employee training courses to ensure we maintain best practices for the collector system; small increase in dues and membership for Water Environment Federation and NEWEA; and an increase in reimbursement of license account to reflect increase in staff that possess required licensure.
Special Items & Debt Service Changes
All wastewater and most stormwater is treated by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The MWRA Assessment has been updated to reflect FY22 preliminary assessment.
Increase in debt service costs reflect new debt service resulting from the Somerville Ave Utility Imporvement and Marginal Interceptor projects.
The Sewer Enterprise proportion of the proposed Low Income Household Water Assistance Program is also included in this account.
FY22 Proposed Rates
Proposed charges for properties billed three times per year (tri-annually) is shown in the table above. Further detail, including rates for properties billed every two months (bi-monthly) can be found here: https://www.somervillema.gov/departments/water-and-sewer/water-and-sewer-rates.
Please see also the 10-year rate study, available here: http://somervillecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=4&ID=15148&MeetingID=3373
Sewer Enterprise expenditures must equal revenue each year. The proposed revenue plan for Fiscal 2022, as well as revenue performance in FY2020, is shown in the table above.
FY22 Average Bill Impact
The table above shows the combined bill, including water and sewer usage and base charges, for several residential examples.
FY22 Goals & Measures of Progress
As essential workers, during FY21 the Sewer Department was focused on maintaining necessary operations while following COVID-19 guidelines for employee and public safety.
During the year, the Department responded to 484 QAlert/311 requests related to the sanitary sewer, combined sewer, and stormwater collection system. Issues range from from sinkholes to sewer backups to odor issues. The Sewer Department crews were able to clean over 420 catch basins throughout the year. Using our Vactor trucks the sewer crews were able to vaccum and high-pressure jet over 33,000 linear feet of sewer mains.
Recruit Diverse Staff
- Continue recruiting to fill all vacant positions using diverse sourcing methods and inclusive interview process
- Invest in personnel and develop ability to bring 10% of contracted work in-house by year-end.
- Clean 14 miles (73,920 linear feet) of sewer collection system, doubling the amount cleaned in FY 21
- Clean 400+ catch basins for MS-4 Permit compliance
- Streamline record keeping practices
- Develop and implement a strategic sewer cleaning program to maintain a system free of blockages
- Work with Health Department to identify issues related to fats, oil & grease