The incident on Brazil Street was no doubt a disaster for the families who have been out of their home and dealing with the aftermath, and for our entire community. This incident brings to the forefront the need to invest in and proactively address critical infrastructure issues in our community.
Over the past two weeks or so, I have reached out to engineering professionals and water infrastructure contractors to discuss the incident on Brazil Street and how to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. During those discussions, I learned of a grant program offered through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust for the purpose of creating and/or improving asset management plans for existing water infrastructure. Melrose did not apply for the first round of grants, but applications for the second round of grants are open until August 23 at noon. I passed along this information to Mayor Infurna and our Melrose Department of Public Works last Wednesday.
The program has identified several pre-qualified engineering firms that can do this work. I spoke to one to get a brief overview of the program and how it might be useful to Melrose. I learned the grant program is quite flexible in terms of how it can be helpful in creating or improving an asset management plan.
Given the issues raised by the Brazil Street incident and the city's aging water infrastructure, I would urge the city to promptly consider pursuing this opportunity. Also, given the potential expansion of state funding for these types of inventory and resiliency efforts (including the GreenWorks legislation recently passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives), it is likely that at least some funding opportunities in the area of water infrastructure will be contingent on an increased attention to asset inventory and management. It is crucial that the city be well-positioned to take advantage of existing and future programs.
The program is an example of a state resource that assists municipalities in maintaining and improving infrastructure and would be an additional resource that would complement the city's inflow and infiltration program funded through MWRA no interest loans. These are the kinds of resources and opportunities that Melrose must take advantage of to make our city's infrastructure safe and able to handle the needs of the residents.
Proactively pursuing state funding can help solve problems and move our city forward. Let's do it!
You can read more about the grant program at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/asset-management-planning-grant-pro...