ConCom Prefers ‘Safe’ over ‘Sorry’

The Marion Conservation Commission consistently took the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach as it considered a variety of applications on July 14, preferring the proverbial ounce of prevention above allowing 2,500 gallons of neutralized chlorinated water to be discharged into the stream on Creek Road.

            During the discussion of the Marion Department of Public Works’ Request for Determination of Applicability to repair the Creek Road water main, Chair Shaun Walsh paused to ponder how discharging chlorinated water used to disinfect the water pipe and then chemically neutralized afterward could be allowed into the nearby stream.

            DPW Engineering Manager Meghan Davis had just explained how the water used to disinfect the pipe would be discharged into 55-gallon drums for chemical neutralizing when Walsh paused to familiarize himself with the chemicals involved and the potential effects of releasing the water into the stream.

            It’s a common practice, explained Davis, describing how the chlorine water is treated with a chemical neutralizing agent before it is discharged. But Walsh was curious how the involvement of chemicals such as sulfur, hydrochloric acid and sodium sulfate could be harmless to the Creek Road stream, which is already “the most sensitive body of water in Marion,” as ConCom member Jeff Doubrava put it. Walsh then suggested, rather than discharging it into the stream, why not route it to the wastewater treatment plant and release it from there?

            “I’m really concerned about discharging this into a very sensitive … area,” said Walsh. But this was the engineer’s proposal, Davis told him, and she has witnessed the process before in another area, she stated. Still, “Better safe than sorry,” said Walsh. Is there a better way to handle the situation, he wondered?

            Just then, Davis said she received a text from the Department of Environmental Protection director saying that the DEP would approve of the suggestion to discharge the neutralized chlorine water directly into the Creek Road pump station to direct it to the wastewater treatment plant.

            “Wow,” said Walsh. “Whoever said the wheels of government grind slowly? I mean, how quick is that?”

            The public hearing was continued until July 28 to allow for the changes to be applied to the plan.

            The commission also supported the DPW’s preemptive action proposed in a second NOI application to replace the Creek Road sewage pump station before the effects of climate change cause the low-lying sewer infrastructure to flood and potentially spill raw sewage into the nearby wetlands, specifically the salt marsh.

            Will Chandler from engineering firm Weston & Sampson said the pumping station is in a “very vulnerable location.” He continued, saying, “[It’s] as vulnerable as you can get … to storm surges and flooding.” The project will build up the site before replacing it with an appropriate pump station for the location. Walsh commented that, should the pump station ever be overcome by a flood, “We’d be in a world of hurt.”

            Chandler gave a general overview of the project, which is part of a long-term plan to rebuild the town’s infrastructure vulnerable to the imminent and foreseeable rising of the sea level. Walsh said the project was overdue and good for the town, noting how fortunate they are to have averted a disaster of this nature so far.

            Before approving the project and issuing an Order of Conditions, Walsh stated, “I think great care has been made to make sure that the building is sited in such a way that it is not going to [have] an adverse impact on the resource area. It’s, I think, a pretty thoughtful design.”

            The commission also approved and issued a Negative 2 determination of applicability (work will occur within the resource area but will not alter it) for the DPW’s application to repair the fire service gate valve box at 275 Front Street. Dangerous deterioration of the road has occurred where the valve is.

            In other matters, after hearing from engineer David Davignon, the commission continued the public hearing for an NOI filed by Nicholas and Rosemary Grey, 3 Shawondasse Road, proposing shoreline improvements to mitigate erosion on their private beach. According to Davignon, the Greys have steadily lost lawn area from erosion caused by winter storms over the past few years. The project proposes constructing an artificial dune – “soft” engineering, Davignon described it, as opposed to constructing a riprap structure. The project includes placing 8 inches of sand on top of the multi-layer “envelopes” of sand and jute netting and planting beach grass to help mitigate the effects of the eroding waves.

            Walsh insisted on some erosion control measures to be included in the plan to keep materials from washing into abutting properties during construction. The public hearing was continued until July 28.

            Also during the meeting, the commission continued the public hearing for an NOI filed by Nancy Lyle Howland and John Manning, 91 Water Street, to relocate the easterly-most floating pile to the northeastern corner of the float, install two additional anchor piles, and install three boat mooring piles.

            The ConCom issued a Certificate of Compliance for 68 West Avenue after a site visit allowed the commission to determine that no substantial deviations from the plan occurred during construction.

            The commission continued the public hearing for an NOI application filed by John and Cynthia Palliota, 119 Converse Road, until July 28 at the applicant’s request.

            The next meeting of the Marion Conservation Commission will be conducted remotely via Zoom on Wednesday, July 28, at 7:00 pm. After that, the commission will return to in-person meetings at the Town House for its August 11 meeting.

Marion Conservation Commission

By Jean Perry

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