EAST GREENWICH—The town will be seeking approval for a $4.5 million bond to provide upgrades to its wastewater treatment facilities during a special election on Nov. 5. The push for funding is just the latest in a long series of renovations over recent years.
“Without these repairs, we will not be able to properly treat our wastewater,” the town government said via a promotional video released on the town’s website last week. “We ask for your support on November 5.”
Renovating the town’s wastewater treatment facilities has been a long endeavor, and last year the town received a $6 million bond for the same purpose, at which time it is was believed only $4 million in further funding would be required to complete the repairs. The town’s video released last week featured footage demonstrating the dilapidated state of much of its sewage treatment facilities. Residents, however, may not be interested in approving more cash for the government, as the town council has touted its dedication to budgetary austerity as a means of balancing the town’s budget, and since it was discovered last month that the town kept funding meant for the school district to the tune of $1.5 million.
Of pressing concern since last year has been the facility’s clarifiers, which have not been updated in 30 years, and one of which (out of two) no longer operates due to the extent of structural damage present. At the time, then-acting town manager Joe Duarte had expressed that a bond would have to be approved with a special election, or else the town would be forced to for two more years until the funding could be acquired.
If passed, the bond will fund replacements for the primary clarifiers, gravity sludge thickeners, sand filters and back-up generator, all of which have reached the end of their useful operational life.
The impairment of the state’s many water sources, particularly from sewage, has become an increasing problem in recent years. Last year, environmental news source EcoRI found that the leading contaminant of Rhode Island’s water sources was human waste, and that such contamination can cause both public health crises and environmental degradation. As such, the result of the special election may determine whether or not East Greenwich joins the many towns across the state that have suffered a decreased quality of health and wellbeing owing to contaminated water.
“The East Greenwich waterfront is a remarkable cove that is an important part of our history, our quality of life and the future of our town,” the promotional video says.
The special referendum at the Swift Community Center on Nov. 5.