The next phase of implementation of Marion’s 20-year, Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP) will be financially focused.
For several months, the town has been sharing information and consulting with Kent Nichols Jr. of Weston & Sampson, Inc. with an eye on developing a plan that can guide Marion through its many infrastructural challenges and into a new era of water and sewer services capable of addressing the long-range future.
On July 20, Nichols met with the Select Board, Town Administrator Jay McGrail and Department of Public Works Director Nathaniel Munafo to make comprehensive the many aspects of the plan that’s been analyzed and dissected, including with public feedback.
“We’ve focused on a lot of different components over the course of time, (but) we’ve yet to pull all the different pieces together,” said Nichols.
The goal on July 20 was to create a big picture, then identify next steps to finish laying the groundwork that would allow the stakeholders to complete the CWMP document.
The July 20 Zoom session was a pure workshop and did not provide a platform for public feedback in the interests of momentum for Nichols and the Select Board. McGrail said there will be another session where public comment will be included.
Nichols’ presentation touched on feedback from past meetings and the July 7 discussion with the Buzzards Bay Coalition on alternatives. He shared an outline of the recommended plan reviewing collection systems, sewer extensions, and implementation.
In identifying emerging information that the Town of Wareham is about to embark on its own CWMP, it could incentivize regionalization on Marion’s part. That depends on if Wareham concludes that they need additional capacity. “Then the project costs for Marion in that scenario would go down,” said Nichols.
Select Board member Norm Hills noted that Wareham is talking about a new pumping station near the Crossings shopping plaza, and Marion was raised in the discussion. “It is nice to know there is some potential for regional cooperation. I think the challenge right now is they’re just getting around to establishing their own CWMP so there’s not a lot of detail there,” said Hills.
In pulling together the work that has been done into one vision, Nichols reminded the Select Board that the Recommended Plan “isn’t a group of things that have to happen tomorrow. … We’re talking about a plan that is supposed to guide your activities locally on Wastewater Management over the next 20 years. A good number of things that we talk about in the plan may take until the latter part of that term.”
He divided the plan into capital projects, physical improvements, and policy. “All the costs that we’ve presented are current costs so, if you push something out five or 10 years, you’ve got to add that much inflation,” said Nichols.
He outlined the existing collection system, dividing sewer into capital and programmatic improvements. Under capital improvements, he identified the one major issue to be Marion’s older pipelines. The leakage results in Infiltration and Inflow (I/I).
“The thing the town has been doing for almost a couple of decades at this point is addressing that through a system of … study and control measures, sewer-system evaluation survey, work and related items to rehabilitate the sewer program,” he explained.
Hills sought some big-picture perspective on I/I mitigations and expressed hope that in 20 years Marion would spend more time monitoring than fixing. Nichols said most customers repeat their I/I treatment cycles and noted that the regulators ask about these programs when towns come calling for permits.
Nichols estimates that Marion will spend $4,000,000 on I/I mitigation over the 20 years of the CWMP and that $500,000 will need to be budgeted for sewer-access programs. He also pointed out that many little problems with pipe alignment or deterioration are discovered during I/I treatment.
The pump stations were identified for capital improvements. Capital improvements for sewer pumping stations were listed accordingly: Creek Road replacement at $2,600,000; four other stations slated for major renovations totaling $6,000,000; three other stations slated needing renovations totaling $2,000,000; and force-main evaluations and improvements totaling $2,000,000 (not including the Front Street Pump Station force-main).
Unsewered areas are the wildcard in the equation. While the town benefits with more ratepayers, the cost of the CWMP increases should sewer lines be extended into unsewered areas.
Sewer extensions target up to 10 areas of town with a combined capital-cost projection reaching $40,000,000. Total CWMP capital recommendations approximate $60,000,000.
While seeking permitting from the Environmental Protection Agency for more capacity at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, regionalization with Wareham remains a possibility.
Implementation is something where Nichols says the town has control over which part of the program to implement right away.
Munafo touched on a July 18 conference call with state and federal agencies and Marion’s permitting status. “I think, based on the call, it sounded like there was enough unresolved questions with what we already have on the table in addition to the additional flow and the loading that we requested in the application, they want to deal with those first,” he said.
McGrail said that he and Munafo took most-recent Select Board member Toby Burr through the many slides from Nichols’ presentations to bring him up to speed.
Ever since Marion held a public meeting on May 23, McGrail’s office has been inundated with concerns that the town is strategizing to alter homeowners’ grinder pumps. “For some reason, maybe it’s anxiety among grinder-pump customers, the focus is with approval of this plan we’re doing something that we know we’re not doing,” said McGrail.
Nichols acknowledged that grinder pumps fall under the category of policy, a large segment of the CWMP, but it is a 20-year program and nothing has been decided so there is no reason for immediate concern, according to McGrail.
The CWMP will next be discussed in a public forum sometime in September.
Marion Select Board
By Mick Colageo