Nauset Middle School Eyed As Backup Discharge Site

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Groundwater protection , Wastewater treatment

Bags of oysters at Lonnie's Pond are part of a nitrogen removal experiment that could limit the need for sewering in Orleans.  ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS The town will ask the Nauset Regional School District to allow testing at the middle school to see whether its running track area can serve as a backup site for discharge of effluent – treated wastewater – from a proposed treatment plant for a downtown sewer system.

Meeting Dec. 14 with AECOM staff and town consultant Mike Domenica, the board reviewed a list of nine sites ranging from the Overland Way location of the closed Tri-Town Septage Treatment Facility to Eldredge Park, home of the Orleans Firebirds. Overland continues to be the preferred primary discharge site, so long as its outflow does not impact Nauset Marsh. The likely choice for a secondary site, if required, is Todd Thayer's Orleans Marketplace property, which already has a state discharge approval. Thayer has told the town he does not expect his own planned development to use the total number of gallons per day his site can handle.

The principal question facing selectmen last week was which of the remaining sites should be the target of hydrogeological testing as a backup to the first two, a precaution required by the state Department of Environmental Protection. AECOM ranked the sites from first to last as Overland Way, Nauset Regional Middle School, the Thayer property, the Route 6 crossing of Route 6A, Depot Square, Orleans Elementary School, Old Colony Way, Eldredge Park, and the parking lot behind Main Street owned by the Hole in One.

Mark Owen of AECOM said evaluation criteria included site suitability, permitting, and engineering factors related to a quartet of discharge technologies: open beds (as at the closed treatment facility), subsurface leaching via trenches with pipes for venting, drip irrigation lines underground, and wick discharge on top of a column of stones placed in wells.

The state highway crossing, an attractive option to some selectmen, finished farther down the list in part because of the anticipated permitting delays in working with the state, which owns the land; nevertheless, negotiations will continue. The middle school, already the site of a nitrogen removal experiment using a permeable reactive barrier, has had some hydrogeological testing and is locally owned.

Selectman Mark Mathison noted that groundwater flows from the middle school to Town Cove. Owen pointed out that the proposed sewer “would be taking lots of septic systems off-line with higher nitrates,” offering more protection to the Cove than existing Title 5 systems. Another advantage would be eliminating the need for a costly replacement of the septic system for the school, which is not at this time scheduled to be sewered. Also, Selectman Alan McClennen said, Nauset Superintendent Tom Conrad “has been talking about trying to get money to create a new track at the existing track.”

In other water quality action, selectmen decided to vote after the first of the year on providing a draft of the town's amended comprehensive wastewater management plan to the DEP and the Cape Cod Commission. This interim step is being taken to allow an informal review of the innovative nitrogen removal technologies the town wants to use in lieu of wider sewering and is not a formal submission for approval.