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Two more effluent disposal basins planned to correct problems

Sewer treatment plant upgrades postponed

Wolfeboro Public Works Director Dave Ford (middle, gesturing) gave a tour of the town’s Rapid Infiltration Basin site to Tuftonboro selectmen Carolyn Sundquist, Dan Duffy and Bill Stockman last Friday, Sept. 4. Ford pointed out areas where they has been unexpected seepage and ground shifting – problems that have not resulted in pollution and are being addressed (Elissa Paquette photo). (click for larger version)
September 10, 2009
WOLFEBORO — Selectmen voted Sept. 2 to accept Public Works Direct Dave Ford's recommendation to postpone planned upgrades to the town's sewer treatment plant in order to have funds available to build additional Rapid Infiltration Basins for effluent disposal.

Since they went into service in March of this year, the town's three Rapid Infiltration Basins near the Tuftonboro town line have performed as expected but have developed problems. By design, the basins are supposed to absorb up to 600,000 gallons of treated effluent a day and disperse it downward deep into the water table, where it becomes part of the local water system. The effluent is pumped to the site from the town's effluent storage lagoon and emptied into the three basins on a rotating basis. As the town increased the disposal rate up toward the 600,000 gallons, it became clear that some of the effluent was not dispersing downward but horizontally. Signs of seepage appeared downhill from the site and there was some slope subsidence and piping of effluent. A no time was there any major problem or failure in the system.

When the signs of the problems emerged, the rate of disposal was decreased in order to study the problem and test for any pollution. Spraying of effluent was restarted in July on 46 percent of the spray fields to reduce the level of the storage lagoon. The 54 percent of the site not used for spraying included the areas that drain toward Mirror Lake.

Testing found no pollution, in part because the treated effluent has nitrogen and phosphorous levels well below permit levels; however, signs of new algae growth were observed in certain locations. On Aug. 12 Ford reported the problem to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) and to the Tuftonboro Conservation Commission, which has been concerned about the effect of the disposal site on Nineteen Mile Brook. Ford gave a tour of the problem areas on the site to the Tuftonboro commission on Sept. 1 and to the Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen on Sept. 4

The Tuftonboro Conservation Commission wrote to Ford on Aug. 25, reiterating its concerns about brook pollution and asking for expanded testing of the seepage and for lower levels of phosphorus than the DES permit requires.

Ford said he was willing to do additional testing.

DES itself concluded that Wolfeboro is operating within its permit, despite the problems, but reserved the right to require that additional basins be constructed. Ford told selectmen he believes DES will end up requiring additional basins be constructed to spread the disposal out further on the site. He estimated that the cost of additional basins to be $300-400,000.

Rather than fight the DES on a mandate to build the additional basins, Ford recommended than the town plan to go ahead with two additional 10,000 square foot basins. To fund that cost he also recommended deferring a $312,000 upgrade to the sewer treatment plant and use the approximately $200,000 saved through lower costs on the effluent projects to provide a $500,000 budget. That way the basins can be constructed and the town would not have to go back to the voters for more funds for effluent disposal.

The sewer plant upgrade was eligible for stimulus grant funding for energy-saving improvements. Deferring the upgrade would mean losing that funding source, but low interest, 50 percent forgiveness loans will still be available.

Ford said at the Sept. 2 meeting that he was "75 percent sure" that additional basins could be constructed on the site. At a meeting with the effluent engineers on Sept. 3 Ford got his reassurance that the site would support two additional basins. Borings will have to be done to confirm the site capacity.

Since the Sept. 2 meeting, Ford has also learned that some stimulus funding for the additional basins may be available if bids can be solicited by mid-November. He said in a phone interview on Sept. 9 that the bid documents were being fast-tracked.

Initially, Selectman Chair Dave Senecal wanted to defer a decision until further information was available, and Selectman Sarah Silk was willing to hold a special meeting to make a decision. Selectman Linda Murray, however, urged the board to act now to defer the plant upgrades and give Ford the resources he needs to pursue building additional basins and avoid going back to the voters for additional effluent disposal funding.

The vote was 5-0 in favor.

Other business

Following two public hearings, selectmen voted unanimously to acquire a strip of land near the water tower on the Kingswood campus from the Governor Wentworth Regional School District and, by a voted of 4-1, to sell a parcel of town-owned land along Forest Road opposite Carry Beach to its three abutters for $1 each. Silk voted again the Forest Road sale.

The board signed quitclaim deeds to two tax-deeded properties. The lot at 9 Park Avenue (Map 190, Lot 60), 0.33 acres, was sold to Warren and Michelle Griffin for $15,100. The lot at 89 South Main St. (Map 1, Block 4, Lot 11), 0.60 acres, was sold to C. Milton and Linda Tanner for $20,500.

Revised welfare guidelines were adopted. The changes made were to correct inconsistencies.

Posting for milfoil treatment of Back Bay on Sept. 15 was approved.

Permits were approved for First Night Wolfeboro and for a Wolfeboro Historical Society flea market on Sept. 19.

Selectmen signed a new lease with the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce. The vote was 4-0 with Selectman Marge Webster abstaining.

The Deliberative Session for the town warrant was set for Feb. 2, 2010 with a snow date of Feb. 4, 2010.

Selectman also did a performance evaluation with Town Manager Dave Owen in nonpublic session.

Martin Lord Osman
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