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  • Warwick Celebrates $17M Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

    [CREDIT: Mayor Avedisian's Office] Mayor Scott Avedisian speaks during completion ceremonies for a $17 million upgrade of Warwick's Wastewater Treatment Facility.

    [CREDIT: Mayor Avedisian’s Office] Mayor Scott Avedisian speaks during completion ceremonies for a $17 million upgrade of Warwick’s Wastewater Treatment Facility.

    WARWICK, RI — Two years ago, federal, State and City officials broke ground on a $17 million upgrade of the Warwick Wastewater Treatment Facility girding the site against a 500-year flood event, and they celebrated its completion Thursday.

    Mayor Scott Avedisian Sewer Authority Chairman Peter Ginaitt, and WSA Executive Director Janine Burke-Wells joined U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, along with FEMA Region 1 Acting Administrator Paul Ford at the plant yesterday morning.

    Burke-Wells served as master of ceremonies for the event.

    The levee around the site is now bolstered against 500-year flood levels. The upgrade is a response to the March 2010 flood, a 200-year flood that swamped the facility with 78 million gallons of water, shutting down the wastewater system in Warwick.

    The Providence Journal reported Avedisian ordered coin-operated laundries closed, and shut down local businesses’ restrooms until the sewer system was operating again.

    “This is a significant day for the Sewer Authority,” said Avedisian. “The flood protection measures address past vulnerabilities at the facility and ensure that our residents and businesses are protected should another natural disaster occur. The new phosphorous treatment process is great for the environment, particularly the Pawtuxet River. I thank our Congressional delegation for securing the levee funding and all who have worked so patiently with the Authority on both of these issues.”​

    “I am pleased to see the completion of these much-needed improvements to the WSA’s Wastewater Treatment Plant,” said Congressman Langevin. “Tens of thousands of Warwick residents rely on this facility, and these upgrades will help protect the plant from flooding and improve water quality in the surrounding communities. I am grateful that the City went beyond simply fixing the damage caused by the 2010 flood and is looking to improve the resilience of its infrastructure against future hazards.”

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    At the time the floods knocked out the treatment facility, the WSA was in the planning stages of process improvements required under a Consent Agreement with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to significantly reduce its phosphorus discharges to the river.  With the need to protect those facility investments from future flooding, RIDEM worked with the WSA and its consultants to allow for flood protection measures to be incorporated into the phosphorus project. 

    FEMA and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency worked with the WSA to continue the public assistance funding provided for recovery from the federally-declared flood disaster to pay for the flood mitigation work which involved significant improvements to the levee surrounding the treatment facility.  And thanks to Rhode Island’s federal delegation, the public assistance funding was increased from the typical 75 perecent reimbursement of disaster-related expenses to 90 percent reimbursement.  In addition to paying for repairs to the treatment facility and collection system following the March 2010 flood, FEMA approved $3.6 million for the levee improvements.

     The remainder of the funding for the cost of the levee improvements as well as funding for the entire phosphorus improvement project came from the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank in the form of low interest loans under the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program.

    This project will help protect the environment and save taxpayers from future catastrophic storm damages,” said Senator Reed, who worked on the Appropriations Committee to make federal funds available for the project and authored a provision to increase the federal matching funds.

    “Congratulations to Mayor Avedisian on completing these upgrades to protect the health of Warwick residents,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  “Preparing for floods will pay dividends when severe weather hits, and limiting the pollution flowing into the Pawtuxet River will guard against algae blooms that can be harmful to Rhode Islanders’ health and to our fisheries.”

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    At the time the floods knocked out the treatment facility, the WSA was in the planning stages of process improvements required under a Consent Agreement with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to significantly reduce its phosphorus discharges to the river.  With the need to protect those facility investments from future flooding, RIDEM worked with the WSA and its consultants to allow for flood protection measures to be incorporated into the phosphorus project.

     FEMA and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency worked with the WSA to continue the public assistance funding provided for recovery from the federally-declared flood disaster to pay for the flood mitigation work which involved significant improvements to the levee surrounding the treatment facility.  And thanks to Rhode Island’s federal delegation, the public assistance funding was increased from the typical 75% reimbursement of disaster-related expenses to 90% reimbursement.  In addition to paying for repairs to the treatment facility and collection system following the March 2010 flood, FEMA approved $3.6 million for the levee improvements.

     The remainder of the funding for the cost of the levee improvements as well as funding for the entire phosphorus improvement project came from the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank in the form of low interest loans under the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program.

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