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Thread: Decision made to shut down Wayland-Sudbury Septage Facility

  1. #1
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    Default Decision made to shut down Wayland-Sudbury Septage Facility

    The Town Crier recently published an article on the decision to shut down the Wayland-Sudbury Septage Facility. That article is available here

    Committee member John Dyer sent me a copy of the Minority Report he wrote, and he also emailed committee chair Tom Abdella, who provided the Majority Report. Tom Abdella also noted that the May 5 meeting at which the decision was made to close the facility was videotaped, and will be available on both Sudbury and Wayland cable TV, and will be online at www.sudburytv.org (it is not presently available at that site)

    These reports are attached to enable residents to review them and become educated on the topic. John Dyer sent the minority report in hopes that publicity around the issue might help get it reconsidered.

    I am liberally paraphrasing here, and encourage both Tom and John (and any others knowledgeable about this issue, or with questions about it) to post here.
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  2. #2
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    Default

    Werner Gossels, another member of the committee, put out his minority opinion on the septage facility closure in this letter to the Crier

  3. #3
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    Default Tape of board meeting now available online

    The Joint Meeting of the Wayland and Sudbury Board of Selectmen, along with the Septage Facility Committee is now available via www.sudburytv.org.

  4. #4
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    Default Correspondence from the DEP

    Attached is correspondence from DEP outlining permit violations and an order to either make a substantial capital investment in the facility or close it.
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  5. #5
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    Default Why Closing the Septage Facility Is the Only Sensible Decision

    I received the following column from Fred Turkington this morning. It represents the views of both the Wayland and Sudbury boards of selectmen.

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    Why Closing the Septage Facility Is the Only Sensible Decision

    Meeting together on May 5, 2009, the Wayland and Sudbury Boards of Selectmen voted unanimously to close and decommission the joint Wayland-Sudbury Septage Facility. The decision is consistent with the recommendation of a majority of the Septage Committee, which had voted 4-2 to recommend closure to the selectmen, and the advice of the consulting engineer for the facility.

    The decision was not made hastily nor without substantial study and deliberation. The selectmen from Sudbury and Wayland, together with the joint Septage Committee, had previously held meetings on August 21, 2006, April 12, 2007 and June 23, 2008 to discuss all aspects of the operation and to consider the appropriate response to continuing scrutiny from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The septage facility is permitted to discharge 25,000 gallons per day. A majority of the septage collected in Wayland and Sudbury is treated at the facility, but a significant portion is brought from Lincoln, Weston and other communities. Many local septage pumping companies use the facility; other haulers transport septage to facilities in Blackstone Valley, Fitchburg and Raynham.

    Compliance issues, environmental protection, and economics were the critical factors in the decision to close. The facility has operated under an administrative consent order since 2007 by which state DEP has set more stringent discharge standards. Between January 2007 and January 2009, the facility recorded 26 separate violations of discharge standards for nitrogen, manganese and mercury. During this period, the facility achieved compliance only during the months of July, August and September 2008. These successful months came after plant engineers and operators adjusted the treatment process and made minimal improvements to hopes of avoiding the estimated $350,000 in capital investment needed to meet permit standards. The failure to meet permit in subsequent months led state DEP to order the capital improvements or close the facility. However, engineers could not offer assurances that the facility would meet permit every month even after installation of the costly upgrades.

    Aside from the continuing failure to consistently meet permit discharge standards and thus negatively impact groundwater quality, selectmen from both communities were concerned that the facility could not be self-sustaining. The Septage Committee is expected to maintain a cash balance sufficient to fund the cost of closing the facility and the liability for retired employee pension and health insurance costs. The most recent certified balance of approximately $330,000 is not adequate to fund these expenses. In addition, the facility does not generate sufficient revenues to meet operating costs and the debt service payments associated with the capital upgrades. State DEP will not consider (and would not commit to in advance) an increase in discharge from 25,000 gallons per day to 33,000 gallons per day until a sustained record of compliance. Facility engineers offered no assurances that compliance could be achieved on the regular basis necessary for DEP consideration. Without increased flow, the facility would operate at a loss. Neither board of selectmen is willing to have citizens subsidize facility operations through town budgets.

    In recent guest columns, dissenting Septage Committee members John Dyer and Werner Gossels contended closing the facility will lead to increased septage disposal costs for homeowners and businesses. Yet neither offered any evidence to support this assertion. At the June 23, 2008 joint meeting of selectmen, Mr. Gossels argued the Wayland-Sudbury facility could cover operating costs by assuring treatment of maximum daily flow through better management and charging a higher cost per gallon for disposal than competing facilities in Blackstone Valley and Fitchburg. He argued that the additional treatment charge would approximate the difference in cost for time and fuel to transport septage elsewhere. Anecdotal evidence suggests there will be little change in cost. Septic haulers, not homeowners and businesses, are the customers of the facility. Haulers determine the charge for pumping a septic tank based on a number of factors such as labor, diesel fuel, equipment, transportation, insurance, and disposal costs. That a number of Wayland- and Sudbury-based septic haulers use the facility, while many others do not, suggests there is little variance in price based on the disposal site. The facility has been shut for significant periods for repairs and is unable to accept some septage during peak periods for which there is demand from haulers. We have not received complaints from homeowners or businesses alleging higher charges by haulers under such circumstances.

    State DEP has provided every opportunity for the facility to achieve compliance, deferring imposition of fines and allowing more than 18 months since issuing the administrative consent order for the plant to meet permit discharge standards. Faced with a June 1, 2009 deadline to make the decision, the committee worked diligently with engineers, operators and legal counsel to consider all options. The Septage Facility is not able to consistently meet discharge permit standards, as the most recent analytical data demonstrate, and is not allowed to treat sufficient volumes to cover operating and capital costs. In our view, the environmental and financial risks associated with expending substantial funds for capital equipment without guarantees of compliance with stringent discharge permit standards outweighs the convenience of a local disposal option.

  6. #6
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    Default Letter from Wayland Surface Water Quality Committee

    I received the following from Mike Lowery of the Wayland Surface Water Quality Committee:

    Wayland Surface Water Quality Committee (WSWQC) members appeared before the Wayland Board of Selectmen Monday, June 15th to urge that the Joint Wayland-Sudbury Septage Facility be upgraded and remain open.

    Committee members fear closure will lead to higher septage disposal fees for Wayland/Sudbury homeowners and unreliable availability of pump outs. Rising disposal fees lead to less frequent pump outs, adding nutrients to ground waters which nourish invasive weeds in town lakes and ponds.

    If the facility closes, WSWQC urges that revenues derived from leasing the lands or facility be used to cap disposal fees for homeowners at 2009 levels.

    [The full text of the letter submitted by WSWQC to the Wayland Board of Selectmen is attached.]
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