Orleans Looks Ahead To Future Sewer Phases

By: Ryan Bray

Topics: Wastewater treatment , Orleans news , sewers

Uncle Harvey’s Pond near Pochet Road and Baxter Lane has been identified as one of the next areas to be sewered in Orleans. RYAN BRAY PHOTO

ORLEANS – With planning for downtown and Meetinghouse Pond sewer work now in the rearview, Orleans officials are now looking toward the future.

The town's wastewater consultant, AECOM, presented its recommendations for the next eight phases of sewering to the select board May 11. At the top of the list are six properties bordering Uncle Harvey's Pond and two phases of work on Eldredge Park Way.

In October, town meeting approved $250,000 to fund a study to lay out the next phases of sewer work in the town's comprehensive wastewater management plan. The recommendations given the select board represent a draft of where the town could direct its sewering efforts in the short- and long-term, Town Administrator John Kelly said.

"This is really a preliminary step," he told the board. "No decisions have been made, this is just to let you know this is where we're at at this point and time."

AECOM's draft report identifies a total of 919 future properties that would be tied into the sewer over eight future phases of work. In addition to Uncle Harvey's Pond and Eldredge Park Way, future phasing includes two stretches of Tonset Road, one in the area of Tonset and Main Street and the other near Meetinghouse Road and Main Street; Crystal Lake in the area of South Orleans Road and Pond Road; Pilgrim Lake in the area of South Orleans Road and Old Timers Lane; and the installation of a pumping station at the senior center that would discharge at Jones Road.

Tom Parece of AECOM said the eight phases would connect about 45 percent of properties in town to sewer.
The six properties along Uncle Harvey's Pond in the area of Pochet Road and Baxter Lane would require the use of grinder pumps to connect into the sewer system. Parece said the pond properties are optional tie-ins that could be connected as part of construction in the nearby Meetinghouse Pond area. Kevin Galligan of the select board said the cost of construction in Meetinghouse Pond could drive the decision of whether or not to include the properties.

"If we don't like the bid, we don't do it," Galligan said. "But we definitely should be in support of this."

The first phase of work on Eldredge Park Way near Cranberry Highway is being prioritized because of its proximity to the town's fire station. Town officials are in the process of planning for a new fire facility in town, which would need to tie into the new system.

A timetable presented by AECOM called for the first phase of work on Eldredge Park Way to be funded through town meeting this October, and for construction to begin by the spring 2024. The first phase would also tie Orleans Elementary School into sewer, while the second phase of work on Eldredge Park Way would include Nauset Regional Middle School.

"Why wouldn't we just slice off and include the middle school (in the first phase of Eldredge Park Way)?" Galligan asked. "It's a district undertaking that's going to benefit them."

Andrea Reed of the select board also stressed the importance of treating Crystal and Pilgrim lakes, freshwater areas that were listed last among the upcoming phases.

"Our lakes are in crisis, even if they don't count as part of our saltwater cleanup," she said.

Parece reiterated that the report presented to the select board is only a draft, and that the town has the flexibility to change and reprioritize areas for sewering as it sees fit.

"That's absolutely why we need a committee or some group of people to sit down and have these exact discussions," he said.

The total cost of the eight phases is estimated to be $80 million on top of the estimated $107 million the town has already committed to sewer downtown and Meetinghouse Pond. But Parece cautioned that hard numbers are difficult to come by, especially given supply chain issues that have made materials harder to get due to COVID-19. The $80 million figure includes 30 percent in contingency costs to cover unintended expenses and increases, Parece said.

"That is a wild unknown right now," he said of the cost projections. "Unfortunately that's bad overall, because you don't know what the costs are going to be or what the impacts will be."

The town will also have to address the need for additional sewer treatment capacity to accommodate the future phasing. Parece said after the downtown and Meetinghouse Pond areas, the town's new treatment plant will have leftover capacity for 78,000 gallons per day. That's far less than the daily flow of 112,468 gallons that will be needed to service all eight new phases, he said.

"The treatment facility that's being constructed now, you could mirror image it and you would double the flows to go from 350,000 to 700,0000 gallons per day."

The town is exploring alternatives to sewering in areas of town where appropriate, namely through the use of permeable reactive barriers. The barriers are designed to stop nitrogen and other pollutants from entering the town's waterways.

Orleans is penciled in for $17.1 million in state money as part of the state's intended use plan, while the overall cost of implementing the barriers is estimated to be $63.3 million. Parece recommended that officials request an extension from the state to keep its spot on the plan, given that the town is not yet ready to secure its share of the project funding.

"I have no problem with the extension of the PRBs," Galligan said. "We're on the list, so if you want to extend, that works for me."

The select board voted 5-0 in support of prioritizing Uncle Harvey's and Eldredge Park Way as the next areas in town to be sewered. The board also voted in favor of requesting the PRB extension, considering tying in Uncle Harvey's Pond properties as part of the Meetinghouse Pond sewer work and some sewer main alterations in the Meetinghouse Pond area to allow for additional tie-ins.

Discussion also was given to the creation of an advisory committee that will serve as a liaison between the select board and AECOM in the rollout of the wastewater management plan. Kelly recommended that the committee be composed of one member each from the select board, planning board, board of water and sewer commissioners, board of health, marine and fresh water quality committee and the conservation commission, with George Meservey, the town's director of planning and community development, serving as staff liaison. The committee also would work with consultant Mike Giggey of the engineering firm Wright-Pierce.

The select board is expected to have further discussions about the make-up of the committee at its first meeting.

Email Ryan Bray at ryan@capecodchronicle.com