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Selectmen review town's response to Tuftonboro effluent disposal concerns

February 25, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Public Works Director Dave Ford came before the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen at their Feb. 17 meeting to review recent exchanges with Tuftonboro selectmen and Conservation Commission concerning effluent disposal and to outline the steps he is taking to address the issues raised.

Wolfeboro's new Rapid Infiltration Basins (RIBs) for septic disposal, completed a year ago, lie near the Tuftonboro town line and the drainage area for 19 Mile Brook. Because of that proximity, the Tuftonboro Conservation Commission has expressed concerns about potential pollution of the brook since the project was first proposed and objected strenuously to the permit granted by the Department of Environmental Services. Ford has responded to those concerns in the past by meeting with commission members and Tuftonboro selectmen, reviewing plans for monitoring water quality and giving tours of the site.

Tuftonboro's concerns increased when problems of seepage emerged in the operation of the three completed RIBs that led to the town limiting effluent disposal to 400,000 gallons a day (below the 600,000 permitted) and planning for two additional RIBs to be added this year. The Tuftonboro Conservation Commission ordered two studies, of algae found near the seeps and of 19 Mile Brook, and wrote to Ford on Jan. 27 presenting the findings and detailing its concerns.

Ford responded to the letter and studies on Feb. 12. In his response Ford challenged several statements made in the Jan. 27 letter and sought to clarify the current status of the RIBs. His major points in response were: "1) The Town is and has been compliant with its Groundwater Permit; 2) Flow and Nitrate impacts are lower than permitted and predicted; and 3) the RIBs are operational and functional. After 11 months of operation at an average flow of just under 400,000 gallons per day, the infiltration beds are absorbing the treated water as expected, groundwater mounding beneath the beds is as expected, and groundwater and surface water quality around the site is well below permitted limits."

Any accompanying detailed response to the issues raised by Tuftonboro from town engineers Wright-Pierce pointed out that the new RIBs being added will increase the surface area by 50 percent with no increase in permitted flow.

Ford concluded by saying he is setting up a follow-up meeting with the Tuftonboro Conservation Commission in April, ideally on April 17, and asked selectmen to join him to emphasize the fact that the town of Wolfeboro is committed to protecting the health and safety of the community and its water quality and is taking all steps possible to monitor the RIBs and address any problems that arise.

Forest management of watershed

Ford also presented selectmen with a Forest Management Plan for town-owned land around Upper Beach Pond, prepared by Erik Grove of Southern Maine Forestry Services. Upper Beach Pond is the town's principal water source. The report recommended renewing the forest on the 300-acre site through selective harvests of 60 acres every two years or 100 acres every four years, beginning in late summer of this year. This would yield an estimated 2,928 cords of timber. "Such cutting will improve both the vigor and value of future growth," the report concluded.

Ford recommended accepting the report and hiring Grove as Forester to oversee the cutting. He also recommended using a qualified logger, preferably local, to do the selective logging, and putting the emphasis on the quality of logging rather than price because the object was not to make money from the timber but to reinvigorate the forest and protect the water supply.

Selectmen accepted the recommendations. Ford will send the report to the Wolfeboro Conservation Commission and meet with the group as well. Town Manager Dave Owen said the question of what to do with the funds from timber sales has been discussed with the town's auditor and will be discussed with the state Department of Revenue Administration.

Other business

Selectmen agreed with Ford's recommendation to allow James and Linda Southern to conduct and pay for a feasibility study of extending the town's sewer line on Sewall Road to the Southern property. Since the road was recently rebuilt, any work would have to involved repaving, not just patching the trench.

The board approved printing the annual Voters Guide in the Feb. 25 issue of the Granite State News.

Temporary event permits were approved for a Community Spirit Event on June 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. by Cornerstone Christian Academy and for the following Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce events: Moonlight Madness on June 25 from 6 to 11 p.m.; Annual Sidewalk Sale Days on Aug. 27-28 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the Annual Scarecrow Festival from Oct. 2 to Oct. 11.

The board tabled discussion of legal counsel for the Historic District Commission until its next regular meeting on March 3.

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