PITA NewsLetter

Sponsored by the Plum Island Taxpayers & Associates, Inc. 2015

Bringing Plum Island TogetherNewsletter_files/PITA%20Newsletter%20August%202012.pdf

November  2015     PITA Newsletter November 2015.pdf

Plum Island's Big Freeze: Can it happen again?

We never knew what hit us. One day, the ground was as bare as the trees in December. The next, we were buried by a blizzard, then another and another and another and another.

Islanders didn't see it coming. Most of us also didn't expect the damage it would inflict on the sewer and water system. Perhaps we should have. There were questions from the beginning about the ability of the shallow vacuum-operated sewer system to withstand the rigors of a deep freeze and a heavy blanket of snow.

When the island was overwhelmed by winter, much of the system froze. And when the system could no longer remove the sewage, the waste backed up into dozens of homes, forcing out the occupants.

To understand why this happened, it helps to know a little about how the system operates.

Because the island is essentially at sea level, a gravity-operated sewer system was not feasible, so the vacuum system was installed.

Sewage from homes flows into pits just outside each home (there's one for every two or three homes).

As PITA president Ron Barrett explained, the pits operate like toilet flow tanks, except in reverse.

Wastewater flows into a 20-gallon tank. When it reaches 10 gallons, a valve opens and the waste is sucked out of the pit and sent to the treatment plant uptown. The valve shuts again when the tank is empty. (In a toilet tank, the valve shuts off when the tank fills back up after flushing.)

What happened last winter is that the valves in the sewer pits froze and stopped working when water seeped in. And when "candy cane" vents became buried in snow, they no longer brought in air to assist in the vacuuming process.

The city has taken steps to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again if we get socked with another brutal winter.

First, the manhole covers over the pits have been insulated — about 670 of them in all. The city is also looking into ways to heat the pits. It is also using GIS technology to map the locations of the candy canes and pits.

Finally, if you've driven down Northern Boulevard, you may have noticed bumps in the road around the pits — they're meant to shed water to help keep the valves from freezing.

The city is also seeking a settlement behind closed doors with CDM Smith, the lead engineering and design firm for the water and sewer systems. (The water system has problems of its own — thousands and thousands of the bolts holding it together are rusting.)

Will the steps being taken now prevent a repeat?

Maybe — especially if we are spared another relentless series of storms like the ones that descended on us last January.

More than 113 inches of snow fell last winter in Newburyport — almost 10 feet. On the Island, it felt like 20 feet when wild winds and huge plows piled up the drifts, burying cottages, obliterating mailboxes.

The bad news is the Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting another abnormally snowy and cold winter for the Northeast.

The good news is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts a warmer than usual winter, if a slightly wetter one, thanks to the influence of an unusually strong El Nino current off the Pacific Coast. El Nino affects the flow of the jet stream in ways that are generally beneficial for our weather.

Take your pick. We're betting on NOAA. But one thing you can be sure of is that PITA will be watching carefully and looking out for the interests of Islanders.

Past Newsletter Issues
PITA Newsletter July 2015.pdf  
PITA Newsletter April 2015 6page.pdf  
          See Archived Newsletters                                 Newsletter_files/PITA%20Newsletter%20DRAFT%20July%202015.pdfNewsletter_files/PITA%20Newsletter%20April%202015%206page.pdfNewsletter_and_Photo_Archive.htmlNewsletter_files/PITA%20Newsletter%20August%202012_1.pdfshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2

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Inside This Issue

  1. -Plum Island's Big Freeze: Can it happen again?

  2. -PITA Membership drive, please renew

  3. -christmas Fair Dec 5th, celebrates 21st year - calling all Crafters!

  4. -Zumba, Tuesday nights at 6PM, Thursday mornings 9:30AM

  5. -PI beautification meetings 7pm PITA- 1st Tuesday

PITA Christmas Fair celebrates 21st year

You can pick out your tree, do some early shopping and have your kids deliver their lists to Santa, all at our 21st annual Plum Island Christmas Fair.

The fair is Saturday, Dec. 5, at Plum Island Hall, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Santa returning by fire truck for his annual visit about 2 p.m.

Once again, we'll be selling premium trees, with free delivery on the Island. The PI Beautification Society will sell custom decorated wreaths and baked goods.  Crafters and artists from Plum Island and vicinity will offer handmade gifts, stocking stuffers and holiday decorations.  

There will also be raffle prizes, refreshments and lunch specials, including hot dogs, hamburgers, homemade haddock chowder and Diane Barrett's famous chili. 

The event is one of PITA's major annual fundraisers. All proceeds go to help maintain the Hall as a gathering spot for Island residents and support other PITA efforts, including surveying and marking public rights-of-way.

So save the date and come celebrate the season with your PI neighbors.  Vendors interested in reserving a table , please see Calling all Crafters below.

Calling All Crafters!

It's that time of year again! The annual PITA Christmas Fair is scheduled for Saturday, December 5th, and PITA is reminding all crafters who have participated at previous PITA fairs to be on the lookout for this year's application form.

Forms will be mailed to the address on file during the first two weeks of October. If you would like to participate as a vendor and haven't received an application form yet, please email or call Frank Pierce right away at fpierce1@comcast.net, or leave us a message with your name and contact information at 978 463-0670.

PITA Membership: renew for 2016 -Annual Membership  Drive


We are sorry but we must increase PITA Membership dues this year.  Dues have not been increased since 1942 but due to financial needs, we must modestly increase them as follows in November:

$20 / year individual membership

$30 / year family membership

If you have not already done so, please renew your membership now and support PITA.

Send dues and donations to PITA  at 8 Plum Island Blvd.  Newbury, MA 01951

                Contact Susan at sailpi@comcast.net