HARWICH – While the tri-town Dennis-Harwich-Yarmouth Clean Water Partnership has been set aside, selectmen have said they want to continue to pursue a regional solution to treating wastewater with the town of Dennis.
Water/Wastewater Superintendent Dan Pelletier told selectmen last week that he attended a wastewater session with Dennis officials in which they discussed regional treatment options. Pelletier said Harwich would be open to providing a regional effluent recharge site for a treatment plant built in Dennis.
The recharge site, Pelletier said, would likely be a portion of the 138 acres under the control of the DPW along Queen Anne Road. That is the location where a treatment plant and recharge area would be located if the town decides to process its own wastewater. A recharge area would require about 20 acres, and the percolation rate for the site would have to be studied, he said.
Over the past several years the towns of Dennis, Harwich, and Yarmouth joined together in pursuit of a tri-town wastewater treatment facility located in Dennis. Special legislation was approved allowing the formation of the DHY Clean Water Partnership defining the governance of an intermunicipal operation.
Harwich selectmen were concerned about the lack of oversight of appropriations in the management controls of the operation. There was no resolution to the governance language, and Yarmouth also had timing issues relative to a Massachusetts Department of Transportation project under which sewering would be placed. Yarmouth decided to move forward with plans to construct its own treatment facility.
Pelletier said there is interest in Harwich working with Dennis, and he needed support from selectmen to move forward.
“We don’t want Pelletier spinning his wheels. Do we want to continue in that direction? I think so,” said Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill.
“We should move ahead,” agreed Selectman Larry Ballantine. “There are too many disadvantages if we try to do it ourselves.”
“I agree, it makes perfect sense not to do it by ourselves,” said Selectman Mary Anderson.
There was consensus among the board that working with Dennis would result in savings for the town. Pelletier said he could not answer questions about cost until it was determined whether Harwich would have an “equity share” in the operation or function solely as a customer.
“I was interested in the three towns,” said Selectman Julie Kavanagh, who was on the board during the tri-town discussions. “Unfortunately, we lost out there. We would have saved some money.”
Regarding an effluent recharge site in Harwich, Pelletier said it wouldn’t just receive effluent from Harwich’s sewage flow. All of the effluent from a treatment plant would get blended, and all of it would come back to Harwich.
Ballantine said Harwich would have to define the treatment level of the effluent. Pelletier agreed, adding there is likely to be a vocal minority arguing Harwich should not take effluent from the town of Dennis.
“We have control over what we build,” Pelletier said. “We can treat wastewater to drinking water standards. It’s within our right to do so.”
The board agreed to have Pelletier continue discussions with the town of Dennis.