Holyoke Water Works proposes plans addressing deficiencies of water pipes

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Multi-million dollar plans are in the works in Holyoke to address deficiencies in the water pipes.

The water department is proposing a 6.5 million dollar bond After a fire here on Fairfield ave drew new attention to some deficiencies in the city’s water mains.

The improvements have been long needed but would mean a 25 percent increase in your water rates.

One member of the Holyoke Water commission added that mayors and council members have known about the water pipe deficiencies for some time

“There are a lot of bad areas. We knew that. They knew that. The city council and the mayor knew that all mayors since 1985”

The deficiencies in Holyoke’s water system are nothing new, but in a city filled with pipes over 100 years old, replacement is a long term project. Everything couldn’t be updated at once.

Water Works General Manager David Conti told 22News that Holyoke’s size and age make the project is going to take time.

“Given a city of this size and the age of this city, it would be impractical to consider that,” said Conti.

New attention was drawn to the issue when A fire on Fairfield ave last month drew attention to the number of high capacity hydrants in the area when the closest hydrant to the home wasn’t usable.

Conti told 22News new hydrants are going to be installed to ease concerns from local residents.

“Going to install a couple of hydrants on Northampton Street, in the vicinity of Fairfield and Morgan Street just to satisfy some of the concerns in the neighborhood in regards to the distance to a high capacity hydrant,” said Conti. “So this is an interim solution.”

Conti said that the interim solution will likely cost $20,000 dollars moved around from the department’s budget.

A long term solution will come in the spring or summer of 2021 when the pipes are upgraded as part of a $13 million dollar bond to improve pipes and therefore, fire protection.

But, there are other parts of the city that are in major need of updates as well- and now the water department is making a request for another bond.

Holyoke Water Commission member, Kevin Jourdin told 22News that the additional work is more costly.

“Now 20 million ask, originally it was $13.3, but to do this additional work, we’re looking at approximately a 25% rate increase,” said Jourdin.

That would be spread out over three years. Meaning the average household will see an increase in their bill by 27 dollars

But, Moises Ruiz, who lives on a street that had such poor capacity that the hydrants were removed, said safety is worth the price.

Ruiz told 22Nesws, “They need to look at this because it is concerning. Pretty sure everybody would agree to pay more money, but we just gotta hear from everybody”

The priority of these projects has been broken into three phases over the next three years. And that street without hydrants? that’s already set for replacements in phase 1.

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