NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday is pleased to announce that the City of Newburyport is featured in an article in a national government services publication detailing the city’s efforts to maintain and restore wastewater services during a trio of snow storms and blizzards in 2015.
The national government services publication Water & Wastes Digest featured Mayor Holaday, Department of Public Services Director Anthony Furnari and DPS Collection System Superintendent Jamie Tuccolo in a recollection of the historic winter that tried and tested the city’s ability to provide invaluable services on Plum Island.
“Governing is a challenge during fair weather, but we all too often forget the challenges that can come with providing even the most basic and overlooked services, like bringing fresh water in and sewage out,” Mayor Holaday said. “I am incredibly proud of the multifaceted effort we put forth in 2015 and I hope that this article will help it serve as a national model of crisis management and maintaining government services.”
The historic storms temporarily crippled the sewage system on Plum Island, resulting in evacuations and temporary relocation of Northern Boulevard residents to hotels. The article, written by Tuccolo and accepted by the magazine’s editorial department, details the efforts of the City of Newburyport to restore sewage services as quickly as possible.
During the repeated storms, valves and air intakes that allow the vacuum sewers installed on Plum Island to function were buried in 10 feet or more of snow, rendering them inoperable. Exhaustive efforts followed to restore and maintain services. The article details those efforts, including:
- Mayor Holaday’s leadership, including direct outreach to Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and the activation of snow removal crews from as far away as Pennsylvania to dig Plum Island out
- Immediate outreach to Airvac, the manufacturer of the sewer system, which sent technicians to Newburyport to assist.
- An “all hands on deck” approach by the Department of Public Services, relocating personnel and resources from other areas to focus on restoration efforts
- Sewer work crews working in three sifts, 24 hours a day, for more than 30 days, to fully restore services and free buried equipment
- Use of Geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite imaging to guide efforts
- Outreach to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to come up with a technological solution to prevent future freeze-ups
- The creation of a mobile app that allows the government and citizens to see sewage system status updates in real time, and special acknowledgement to Jerrard Witten of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission for his assistance
“The series of blizzards in 2015 was likely a one-in-a-lifetime event, we may never face such a problem again, but if we do, we are now prepared. Our new sewer monitoring technology is perhaps the most advanced in the world and may be the model for new vacuum systems to come,” the article states.
Between January and February 2015, Newburyport received about 110 inches of snow. By comparison, the city receives an average annual snowfall amount of 43 inches.
The article featuring Newburyport will appear on the March issue of the magazine.
About Water & Wastes Digest:
Water & Wastes Digest is a well-regarded trade publication covering the design, maintenance, repair, and service of water works. Its editorial mission is to provide unique, comprehensive content that covers timely news, water and wastewater industry trends, technical solutions and best practices. The editorial staff strives to provide a trusted business platform that effectively connects industry decision-makers and solution providers. The magazine serves readers in the water and wastewater industries. These people work for municipalities, in industry, or as engineers. They design, specify, buy, operate and maintain equipment, chemicals, software and wastewater treatment services.