Coming Together On Wastewater
Last year a strong majority of voters supported moving forward with the proposed Phase 1A plan. Unfortunately, the vote was just shy of the two-thirds majority needed for funding. So the Board of Selectmen went “back to the drawing boards” and have now come forward with a different approach.
This year there is no “plan” being proposed. That doesn’t mean work has stopped. Instead, selectmen requested funds for studies – important studies that would provide more complete answers to questions and concerns raised by some voters who were not ready to move ahead last year. Orleans voters agreed and voted overwhelmingly at Town Meeting and at the Pools in favor of moving forward with these studies.
These studies would include work necessary no matter what solutions we ultimately choose for cleaning up our waters. These studies would keep the process moving forward. These studies would ensure Orleans continues to qualify for 0% loans. These studies are designed to give the additional information necessary to more clearly understand the most cost-effective solutions for cleaning up our waters. They include:
The utilities survey will determine specific locations of utilities under our streets. This work is needed for whatever plan we ultimately choose in more heavily populated areas – be it a “big pipe” or “small pipe” centralized system or smaller cluster systems. The information on utilities will also be valuable for the stormwater management work that voters have supported
This utilities study will also collect information on the age and condition of current public and private septic systems. Again, this is information necessary regardless of what remediation plan is chosen.
Another study proposes to analyze sites in town, other than the Tri-Town site, that could potentially be used for discharge of treated water. This expands the original analysis of discharge sites done ten or so years ago during the creation of our Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan. (CWMP)
There is a proposed study to create a detailed financial and business plan to look at cost implications for a state-of-the-art treatment facility at Tri-Town for treating septage and sewage. Advanced technologies could be used to recirculate treated water and/or generate green energy. It would look at options for a revenue-generating private/public partnership.
Also included is funding to implement recommendations to improve water quality in Cedar Pond, using an adaptive management approach. And there is a study to continue looking at the possibility of reclassifying Rock Harbor as a boat basin.
Finally, funds would be allocated to retain professional engineering services for ongoing work. The Board of Selectmen will need this consultation to help manage the studies listed above and to use the information coming from the studies to determine what next steps to take.
This engineering consultation would also include a further comprehensive study of Namskaket Marsh.
It would include evaluating how some of the proposals coming out of the Cape Cod Commission 208 Plan could be effectively used in Orleans. For example, further evaluating Orleans fertilizer use, evaluating the impact of raising oysters in Little Pleasant Bay and whether or not Orleans might want to have a pilot program to evaluate a Permeable Reactive Barrier solution.
The Board of Selectmen, working with their professional engineering consultant, Mike Domenica, have accomplished an enormous amount of work. The citizens of Orleans agree and voted to continue moving forward on this complicated but very necessary goal of cleaning up our precious Orleans waterways.
President, Orleans Pond Coalition