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Pittsfield City Council Amends Municipal Sewer And Drain Codes

The Pittsfield city seal
The City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts
City of Pittsfield

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council is amending its sewer and drain codes to save the city money on a state loan.

The changes meet Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection requirements and will lower Pittsfield’s interest rate on a State Revolving Fund loan from 2% to 0%. The loan is related to the city’s ongoing and much debated wastewater treatment plant upgrade.

“We have included the fine structure in the ordinance for any delinquent activity and incorporated that into the ordinance as an item, and the other thing we reinstated with some minor changes the cost and reporting on any upgrades or work performed on the sewer system to the council,” said Commissioner of Public Utilities Ricardo Morales.

“So the main piece of language that changed was that the commissioner shall keep an accurate account of cost and other expenses of each public sewer and shall annually upon request send this to the city council," said Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey. “Before, he had to do that annually within one month of the end of the fiscal year, and logistically, it didn’t seem like it was very easy for him to do. So we amended that and ended up keeping it, but amend it by saying within one month of a request by the city council he would send us that information, just to one, make it easier for him and still give us oversight.”

One change is specifically aimed at improving the city’s grease traps to filter restaurant wastewater.

“The reason why we are looking back at this is, this new standard as laid out in the ordinance in front of you would impose an approximately 20% of the restaurants in the city about $10,000 of repairs and installations to meet the ordinance,” said Morales.

The commissioner described that figure as a crude estimate.

“However, we did in the beginning recommend that it be implemented in a phased manner, with the larger restaurants having to meet the guideline within three years, medium-sized restaurants meeting the guideline within five to six years, and smaller restaurants meeting the guideline in seven years,” he continued.

Morales says his department is working on a larger presentation on the changes to the council and city residents.

“And then at the same time, inform the DEP that this is the plan, only because, as I said before, we are working very closely with them on many projects, many things that we have to, and maintaining that relationship in good standing with them is very important,” said the commissioner.

Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell and Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi both said they were uncomfortable with engineering firm Kleinfelder contributing to the revisions, as it is involved in the wastewater treatment plant project.

“I feel Kleinfelder has been way too involved in all this," said Morandi. "I feel a lot of this could be done by our own city administration.”

The ordinance was unanimously referred to Morales to be resubmitted back the council at a future meeting for another vote on the amendments.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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