Few Attend MWRA Fall Forum

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

Officials at the MWRA on Deer Island held a sparsely attended fall forum last Thursday night. It was noted that no one seemed to want to complain about the trucks, but they might have something to say about them in the future.

Fred Laskey, head of the MWRA, explained to the handful of people who attended the forum that an unforeseen project will result in some unexpected trucking.

Rip-rap on the oceanside of the island is being eroded and more rip-rap, or cobbles, are needed to be brought in. The erosion is causing dirt to spill onto the public walkway that goes around the island. Laskey said they hope to start the work in December.

“The erosion of the rip-rap is causing mud to block the drains,” said Michael Hornbook, the MWRA chief operating officer.

The project will call for 240 truck deliveries of the stones, six to 10 trucks per day with police escorts. Deliveries are expected to start in the next 30 days with storage on the island. Laskey said the deliveries will be Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., but not during school hours. Trucks will come into Winthrop from the East Boston entrance. MWRA officials are asking for the trucks to come in a convoy.

Another project involving added trucking increase is on hold while it is determined if an electrical cable needs to be moved. There is a tunnel running from South Boston to Deer Island which carries electrical wiring supplying the island.

For the past 25 years there have been no problems, yet this is a major shipping lane for Boston Harbor and there is a dredging project going on to allow larger ships to come in. Laskey explained that it was discovered the cable may not be laid deep enough and if it is severed the power to Deer Island could be cut off.

The utility company, Eversource is in an exploratory process to determine the depth of the cable and during this process the MWRA is on generator backup. If more work is needed the cable could be shut off for three to four months putting the plant on continued generator backup.

The MWRA is regulated to have two sources of electricity at all times. This could require massive generators to be trucked in and extra fuel would also have to be trucked in on a regular basis – up to 30,000 gallons a day, with 10,000 gallons on each truck.

Laskey said the MWRA has the capacity for 1.2 million gallons of diesel fuel and they will build up supplies if needed.

Laskey said hopefully the work on the cable won’t be necessary but if it is the trucks will be escorted to the island. If this impact on the MWRA happens the work would be done in July 2017.

Other topics at the forum:

  • The proposed fishing pier project is moving along, but very slowly, said Dave Duest, the director of Deer Island. The design and permitting are underway for the 250 foot pier. The project includes expanded public parking with 40 spaces.
  • The Ogen turbine, the wind turbine shaped like a lollipop, was an experimental project and is no longer needed and will be taken down. Laskey said the industry is leaning more toward solar power to generate electricity than to wind power.
  • Sail Boston 2017 will moor ships off of Deer Island which could correlate to viewing areas. Laskey said the MWRA still does not know what to expect. He said in the past there was a staging area for a bus and there may be opportunities for Winthrop residents and MWRA employees to utilize the area for viewing. Stay tuned.

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