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The north end of Plum Island is in Newburyport, where a water/sewer project is the focus of a state investigation.
The north end of Plum Island is in Newburyport, where a water/sewer project is the focus of a state investigation.Mark Wilson/Globe Staff/File 2004

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It took several years to connect Plum Island to Newburyport’s municipal water and sewer system, a $22.9 million project that was plagued by cost overruns, mismanagement, equipment failures, and opposition from property owners.

Now — as island homeowners continues to battle erosion from waves of winter storms — the water/sewer project is the focus of a state investigation. Newburyport officials are preparing to file litigation against the group of contractors who put down miles of water and sewer pipes, nearly 200 fire hydrants, and a high-tech vacuum-sealed sewer system that experienced problems less than a year after it was installed.

Mayor Donna Holaday said the city’s investigation, outlined in a yet-to-be-released report by city engineers, found at least 147 hydrants in various stages of corrosion with an estimated 18,000 weakened bolts. Other problems were found with the AirVac sewer system and deteriorating water main connections.

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