Tiverton is considering expanding its sewers to mitigate contamination from an outbreak of septic system and cess pool failures on the north end of town.
The state Department of Environmental Management put the town on notice earlier this year that many properties are in noncompliance with the State cesspool mandate and that the town must take action to address the issue.
"Where the problem is coming from - runoff, septics - we know there is a number of failed septic systems," said Leroy Kendricks, chair of the Tiverton Wastewater Management Committee at at Town Council meeting last week. "Maybe it's not the entire problem, but it certainly has contributed and I think we should take this seriously and get ahead of it."
According to Kendricks, the town's north end, including Riverside Drive, properties along Bay, Hilton, Hooper, and Judson streets, Summerfield Lane and County Terrace are all areas known to have failed systems and being considered for sewering in the facilities expansion.
"That is a waterfront area and it is the town's, not just the people that live on the water," said "When the beach gets closed down, that's the town beach - not the person who lives on Riverside's beach."
Last week, the Town Council authorized wastewater facility Supt. John Lincourt to spend $58,500 to study the contamination issue and where it would be necessary to install sewers in the future.
"It is in the interest of the town that a comprehensive solution be developed as opposed to an ad hoc or different resolution for each individual citizen," said Kendricks. "We need a solution that takes care of the whole thing, this is a less expensive solution and proper solution and this facilities plan is doing the right thing to lower cost in the area and is also doing it the right way."
Kendricks said it is not the goal of the commission to sewer the entire town, but just the areas where it makes sense. He said residents would not be forced to tie in immediately. Residents with failed systems would have to tie in sooner, but others would likely have 10 - 20 years to save up.
"The point is not to force sewers where they don't make economic sense," said Kendricks. "We asked the engineer to mark critical areas first where sewers are needed to deal with the [contamination]. This isn't an effort to force sewers onto the whole town, but to do the right thing and plan for something that makes sense."
Residents outside of the sewer district would not be taxed to support the facilities expansion.
The expansion would also make it easier for business entering the proposed industrial park off of Fish Road to tie into the system - something Kendrick's said would be in the economic best interest of the town.
"In the areas known to have failed septic systems and cess pools - Riverside Drive, Main Streen, down to Nonaquacket bridge, you will find Republicans, Democrats, members of the TCC, people on the school board, organizations like Tiverton 1st, everyone in town is covered by those areas so i assure you that this is something that represents all the people of Tiverton not just one specific group," said Kendricks. "It's an environmental issue, a technical issue and we are looking to help the town, to do things in the best interest of the town."
Tiverton's Wastewater Management Commission will meet tonight at 5 p.m. at the Tiverton Community Center, 346 Judson St. According to the agenda filed with the Secretery of State, members will discuss terms of the facilities plan update.