Selectmen Tell Administrator to Move Ahead With Flooding Study

Residents near Paradise Road want $40,000 study done now. Town Administrator wanted to wait to use funds for townwide study of flooding problems.


Town Administrator Thomas Younger wanted to delay a study of storm water flooding on Paradise Road, but the Town Meeting had approved $40,000 for the study last spring and the residents wanted it done now.

Younger, calling flooding "the major issue for the community," could read the handwriting on the wall as a crowd of residents, led by Julia Arsenault of Swampscott Avenue, packed the Selectmen's meeting room to argue that they needed the town to begin now to work on the flooding issues.

"We were promised a year ago that this study would be done this year," Arsenault said.

She and other residents painted a frightening picture of how often their homes are flooded. "Last night we sat up watching the storm trying to decide, 'Do I have to move my car? Am I going to be killed?'" she said.

At the rate the town is moving on the flooding issue, Arsenault said, it will be two years before the residents will see any relief.

Selectman Jill Sullivan said some of the flooding problems may take 10 years. She supported going ahead with the Paradise Road flooding study, although she has been the champion of a townwide study.

Younger said some short-term relief is underway. A contract with an engineering firm is being finalized to start work on the flooding problems around the Tedesco Country Club. That project should help the flooding that has plagued the Hawthorne Brook neighborhood, Younger said.

And the Department of Public Works is beginning to clean out catch basins to allow more water to flow into the storm water system.

But DPW Director Gino Cresta said the town has long neglected the storm water system. He said one of the reasons Paradise Road floods is that 36 and 48-inch pipes lead to 12-inch pipes, which backs the water up.

Younger wanted to wait until next May to have the Town Meeting approve funding for a townwide study of the storm water drainage system. The $40,000 approved last spring would be held over to use in the larger study, he said.

The frustrated residents opposed that plan.

"This is a major safety issue. This is a major health issue," Aaron Reams, a resident whose house floods regularly.

"The town has failed. There is a huge need here," Selectman Barry Greenfield said. "The town should have addressed this problem 25 years ago."

Cresta said the sewer system has also been neglected. The clay pipes that carry the sewage get backed up and blow manhole covers.

Residents told stories of watching soiled toilet paper floating down the street.    

Cresta and several residents blamed the town's growth for some of the problems. "The system just can't handle the growth," Cresta said.

Greenfield said there are no quick or inexpensive solutions, but he said he has talked with the state Department of Environmental Protection which said Swampscott would qualify for low-interest loans to pay for fixing the flooding problems.

Liz September 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM
If the town's sewerage/water system cannot handle the town as it is, what is being done to accomodate the monsterous residential projects Cap'n Jacks, the Temple and the High School?
CheleB September 20, 2012 at 01:38 PM
The town is doing nothing to address flooding issues. There is no maintenance of sewer or storm drains. We have been subject to numerous sewer backups into our basement. This is strictly caused by capacity issues in the system caused by inflow and infiltration. The town is required by the Clean Water Act to address these issues. The town is named in a MassDEP/EPA permit issued to the Lynn treatment plant since Swampscott's waste water is treated there. Permits are published on the local EPA web page.
Whisky September 20, 2012 at 01:45 PM
The sanitary sewer system is independent of the storm drain network. I'd think the projects would impact the former.
Lenny September 20, 2012 at 01:49 PM
It seems to me that as an MWRA community, Swampscott should have access to the vast engineering resources and minds currently employed at that agency. The Boston Water and Sewer Commission, is another agency, while not associated in a fiscal manner, also has vast skill and resources that can be tapped as well. Over the past 20 years, enormous gains have been made in water and sewer managent in Boston, so much so that infrastructure design that went into the Boston Harbor clean up has been researched and modeled around the world. Engineers from both agencies, BWSC and MWRA have been all over the world touting the success of what was done in Boston. Is there not a way that we could tap into that concentration of skill that is so close to us geographically? I mean, why as a participant community in the MWRA can't we ask them to consult and design a solution? It makes no sense to me.
Reid Cassidy September 20, 2012 at 01:51 PM
That's not it at all. Those houses were built on a stream. When they were built everyone knew what would happen when it rained as the builder did not use the appropriate drainage system. This is not a town problem, the problem stems from under those houses.
A+ Schools September 20, 2012 at 03:14 PM
LM..Who is "You know who?". I don't know? Please, enlighten us with your worldly knowledge.
Liz September 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Louis, You are correct on all points..it is up to the voters to take charge of this now. I hope you are a town meeting member. I know as a member I will not be voting for the field or new school until we have finished paying for the high school, police station and have fixed all of the flooding issues for the entire town, not just my area. And I certainly will be very very carefull who I vote in as selectman next time around...
CheleB September 20, 2012 at 06:39 PM
The town's stormwater and sewer issues do not need the expertise of MWRA or BWSC. Swampscott is only an MWRA water community so they do not quailfy for assistance on the sewer side. BWSC's success with stormwater and sewer overflows base are by removing illegal connections. Swampscott is not will to address the issue. Swampscott needs to make maintenance and repair of these old pipes a priority! Sewers are not as sexy as a new school or turf field. Also, people are afraid to speak out because they do not want to identify their properties as having a problem. As much as a town wide flooding study is needed, the town needs to conduct comprehensive wastes after management plan!
CheleB September 20, 2012 at 06:39 PM
That's wastewater management plan!
bigblue September 20, 2012 at 07:52 PM
the home owners should pay, for those few houses thru off the water table, we did not have those problem before they built those houses ,it was a pond before
Liz September 20, 2012 at 07:54 PM
None of the selectman have the problem of flooding so they cannot undestand what an emotonial toll it takes on a person. Rich Malagrfiia had not problem getting the sewer work done at the fish house which I believe was not budgeted because he had an interest it. Each one of the selectman have thier own agenda and make sure it gets accomplished. Those of us with flooding concerns are fighting an up hill battle but we will continue to do what ever is necessary to protect our homes. And Whiskey you are incorrect the sewer waste and storm water does mix in some areas that has already been identified as an issue...
David Arsenault September 20, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Bigblue you got a real name? We should pay for what a water table? Again it's "Street Run off"', look it up huge difference and the town is having "these" problems because the Piping is a-backwards.
CheleB September 20, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Liz you are correct that the sewer and stormwater are intermixed in areas. There are other issues that go back to the maintenance of the systems. Old, unmaintained systems leak and become further intermingled. It is typically not just stormwater when there is flooding. This town is far behind the curve on addressing these issues!
Liz September 20, 2012 at 08:37 PM
We can leave comment after comment until the cows come home, we all know the issues and now it is up to the selectman to act......Any selectman at this point that does not put this issue at the top of the list and fight for it has lost my respect and if need be my vote.
David Arsenault September 20, 2012 at 10:41 PM
I heard 20million for a new school, is this true? If So everything could be fixed with that money. The clay Pipe statement was interesting. Imagine the sewer plugs that would happen if they strart crumbling away, "grab your buckets folks"! Talk about a nightmare. High school was enough for now IMO.
Bridget Russo September 20, 2012 at 10:57 PM
I'd be willing to bet the current homeowners are not the original ones. When I bought my home on Oakledge (parallel to Swampscott Ave) I was told they had a flood "when everyone else was flooding". Little did I know everyone else was flooding all the freakin' time! I had no idea of any of this at my inspection. I left the home and now rent one that has a dry (knock on wood) basement in a storm but I will never forget that feeling of waiting for the storm and wondering if I was going to have my oil burner submerged again. That meant nights at my parents house or a hotel room and months of having our basement stink from what I now know was sewerage. Until you've lived through it you just cannot even imagine the daily stress it caused.
David Arsenault September 20, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Bridget your right. None of Us here in what I call "The Hole" are the original owners. There are two types of check valves for the sewage. We installed a flapper type after the mothers day crap infestation. I am thinking of the Gate Valve type now. The flapper one once let go and I had worms,tampons,feces and alot of water coming in. Funny a Selectman last night said everyone must pay taxes no matter what your getting for it. I almost lost it but kept my mouth shut. Is this really what your supposed to get for paying taxes, This experience doesn't cover the Street Run Off. So we are victims paying taxes to truely be SHH**T upon. Do you mind me asking what you did with your Pseudo home on Oakledge?
CheleB September 20, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Dave & Liz- I'm over by the fire station and have backups fairly regularly as does everyone on King's Beach Terrace. Our sewer line is gravity and it feeds into the force main on Humphrey Street to the Lynn plant which is full during storms so the excess backups into my basement. We did install a gate valve. It solves the backups but means we have no sanitary until the flows go down. This is a town wide problem!
David Arsenault September 21, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Dump it in the street, that's what I do. Although next time I might walk up the hill and dump it there because I'm sure the folks living up hill are draining their basements into the sewer line.
CheleB September 21, 2012 at 12:50 AM
More importantly call MassDEP and report the flooding and backups. This is a town wide public health issue and the town could care less. This is swampscott not some developing country!
David Arsenault September 21, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Hey remember what Barry said, "everyone must pay taxes no matter what their getting for it." I'm going to start a farm here on Paradise, use the street run off for irrigation and crap for fert:)
David Arsenault September 22, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Curso and Galardi must have done something right, we never get one drop of ground water seeping through the floors. It is all street run off flowing in from 1A!! The neighbor at 235 Paradise did cover up a storm drain with a raised cement walkway and shed water from 2 lots toward my house. I could build a wall but then he would never drain. some people are just plain ignorant I guess.
Sharyn Rogers October 18, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Reid-your father put in an underground pool in the back yard. My neighbors on the other side of my backyard have an underground pool. The old B&M Railway embankment is on the back side of the yard. Now my question: just WHERE do you think the excess water is going to go?????????


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