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Don't be left Feeling Flushed

Don't be left Feeling Flushed

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  • 1. Don’t be Left Feeling Flushed Moderator—Virgil J. Lloyd, PE Speaker—M. James Riordan, AICP, LEED AP Speaker—Kurt A. Mailman, PE Speaker—Gary R. Crosby, AICP
  • 2. Session Overview • Basics of Wastewater Planning – Identifying Local Goals and Preferences – Identifying Management Solutions – Technologies – Regulatory Framework and Funding Opportunities • Local Case Studies • Questions? • Planning Exercise/Breakout groups
  • 3. Background • Wastewater management is critical to our society – Clean drinking water – Safe treatment of wastewater
  • 4. The Problem • If you build it, they will come….. – Public sewers may lead to uncontrolled saturation development – Unintended consequences • On-site treatment as de facto zoning tool – Soil capacity is limiting factor
  • 5. Wastewater Management Planning • Protect Public Health • Satisfy regulatory requirements – TMDLs – Coastal and resource management • Provide for economic growth – Support development goals/growth of grand list • Protect conservation areas
  • 6. Public Health Code – Conventional Septic System House Existing Grade Septic Tank Leaching Trenches Minimum Vertical Separation Distance Required - Varies by State Groundwater Minimum Vertical Separation Distance Required – Varies by State Impervious Formation Septic System Effluent 18-inch separation distance to groundwater is an important Health Code requirement for wastewater treatment Takeaway: Treatment of effluent occurs in the soil, not the groundwater
  • 7. Wastewater Management Practices • Decentralized: On-site treatment – i.e., septic systems – Discharge to ground – Capacity of soil is limiting
  • 8. Wastewater Management Practices • Decentralized Advanced Treatment – ―Mini‖ treatment plants at each home Aerated Media Filter Textile Filter Trickling Filter
  • 9. Wastewater Management Practices • Decentralized Advanced Treatment – Ground discharge (dispersal) Bottomless Sand Filter Shallow Narrow Drainfield* Recirculating Sand Filter * Shallow Narrow Drainfield Figure Courtesy of URI
  • 10. Low Profile & Mound Systems • Proprietary leaching products Bottomless Sand Filter • Shallow narrow drain field • Bottomless sand filter • Mounded Systems Low profile leaching system Mounded System
  • 11. Bacteria, Nutrient, Phosphorus Reduction • Aeration Systems • Textile Filters • Peat • Shallow Narrow Drainfields • Sand Filters, etc. • UV disinfection
  • 12. Wastewater Management Practices • Community system – Essentially a large septic system with or without treatment – Normally with discharge to ground – Capacity is limited by soil – Needs larger area
  • 13. Why Community Systems? • Essential: Area to discharge is available • Tight Lots/Well defined problem areas • Concentrated development • Regulatory abatement order (e.g., NOV) • Important detail: – Local management is ESSENTIAL (i.e. O&M)
  • 14. Wastewater Management Practices • Treatment plant with point source discharge – aka ―sewers‖ – Capacity is independent of soil
  • 15. Decision Making Info You Need • Soils Investigation • Depth to Bedrock • Available Land • Location of Nearest Public Sewer • Existing Treatment Capacity of Nearby Plants • Local Preference for Infrastructure and Management (Local Officials, Electorate) • POCD goals • And cost too
  • 16. How Will You Allocate Capacity? • You need to get ahead of this question • Create a Service Area – Map the Service Area (Who’s in, who’s out?) • Integrate wastewater management into land use decision process – Coordinate zoning and land use regulations with apportionment of capacity • You may need a permitting process
  • 18. Capital (Infrastructure) Improvement • Property Owners • Local Bonds • State Revolving Fund • Grants and Earmarks? (Scattered opportunities at best—Not like in days of yore!)
  • 19. State Revolving Fund • Federally enabled, state-run program for financing water and wastewater projects. • Two programs: Drinking Water SRF; and Clean Water SRF. • Clean Water SRF = 2.2% financing (on average) • Green Reserve (ARRA)
  • 20. SRF in SNE State Massachusetts Typical Rate 2% Available Money $300 – $350M annually Comments • • Rhode Island 1/3 off the market rate (~0 – 4%) $945M in 23 years ($40 – $50M annually) • • • Connecticut 2% $489M in FY13 • OWTS loans available Some 0% loans Over $9M in OWTS loans Some 0% loans CT X10 overmatches the cap grant Grants of 20% or more
  • 21. How to Get SRF Financing Develop Loan Agreement and Local Bonding Priority Listing of Conceptual Projects Technical Approval Wastewater Facilities or Onsite Wastewater Management Plan Financial Approval Loan/Grant
  • 22. Operations Financing • Enterprise/Utility Fee (i.e., fee-for-service typically based on use rate of sewers)—Common • Wastewater Management Districts (i.e., user fee for community-run inspection and maintenance of onsite systems)—Occasional • Ad Valorem Tax (i.e., through general property taxation)—Very rare
  • 23. Common Regulatory Frameworks WHO’S DECISION IS THIS, ANYWAY?
  • 24. State and Local Permitting Zoning & Land Use State Authorities GUIDANCE Federal Guidance Regulated Community (Sewers & Lg. Systems) Innovative Systems Local Authorities Regulated Community (OWTS)
  • 25. State and Local O&M Federal Guidance GUIDANCE State Authorities Local Authorities Regulated Community (Sewers & Lg. Systems) Regulated Community (OWTS) Innovative Systems
  • 26. Wastewater Decision CASE STUDIES
  • 27. Case Study: Portsmouth, RI Local decision-making is highly political in nature and is fundamentally unresponsive to big picture environmental issues such as wastewater treatment
  • 28. Set the Stage • No Sewers anywhere in Portsmouth – all on-site treatment systems • DEM does all septic system permitting in Rhode Island • One-to-one relationship between homeowner and DEM • Neighborhoods of Island Park & Portsmouth Park – Small lots – subdivided in 1920’s as more or less tent sites – Old Septic Systems - nearly 50% cesspools
  • 29. Set the Stage • Poor Soils – percolation rates too fast or too slow • High groundwater in Portsmouth Park • Seasonal conversion stretching on-site capacity • Late 1960’s – DEM Shellfish Program Shoreline Surveys • Put on impaired waters list, Shellfish closure in 1987 • DEM began work on a TMDL in 1995
  • 30. DEM Position • Conditions not conducive to on-site treatment with poorly functioning and failing systems contaminating the groundwater • Contaminated groundwater getting into the Town-owned storm drain system and then discharging into State’s SA waters, interfering with designated uses • Installing sewers is the best long-term solution to the problem • The legal hook: – Portsmouth is responsible for what comes out of the storm drain outfalls
  • 31. The Legal Hook • Portsmouth is responsible for what comes out of the storm drain outfalls.
  • 32. In an effort to restore the designated uses DEM provided grant $$ to Portsmouth. Town hired two separate engineering firms to produce: • A Wastewater Facilities Plan for Island Park & Portsmouth Park – Design a collection and treatment system with construction and maintenance cost estimates • An On-Site Wastewater Management Plan for the entire Town – A comprehensive plan for managing the population of on-site septic systems for everywhere else in Town. – Added benefit of participation in CCSLP program.
  • 33. The Sweet Irony • The Wastewater Facilities Plan recommended the continued use of on-site treatment systems (advanced treatment systems required as replacement). • The On-Site Wastewater Management Plan recommended the installation of sewers in Island Park & Portsmouth Park and a Wastewater Management District for the rest of Town. • Both draft plans were sent to DEM for comment • DEM endorsed the sewer recommendation and have been ever since. Results: – Local decision-makers paralyzed – public opinion, NO SEWERS – Town unilaterally halts the planning process – no response to comment letters
  • 34. The Grand Argument DEM – • If Town were to continue the planning process, we are certain that you would arrive at the logical conclusion that sewers are needed. • We are here to help with funding and technical expertise to make that happen. • Why don’t you just listen to what your engineers are telling you, sharpen your pencils and put in sewers? Town – • There is no pollution……..and if there is, it’s DEM’s problem. • If DEM would just fix all the failing septic systems then there would not be any contamination in our storm drains.
  • 35. Decision-makers decided to conduct a Town-wide citizen survey What do the people think we should do? • Mail questionnaire – 49% response • Answers took us further down the rabbit hole: – Town-wide – 78% against sewers – Some neighborhoods 50/50 on subject – Why should I pay for sewers that I am not going to use? – Wastewater planning by referendum? – Time and effort to obtain answers that really did not inform the decision-making process.
  • 36. 2005 – TMDL Issued by DEM Recommended: • Illicit Discharge Detection • Education program • Completion of a comprehensive communitywide wastewater and stormwater strategy “This TMDL differs from the typical TMDL in that the identified water quality impairment is not based on ambient water quality violations but on the presence of a threat to public health, in the form of direct and indirect discharges of untreated and inadequately treated wastewater. Therefore, to restore the targeted waterbodies designated uses as shell-fishing waters, the goal of this phased TMDL is the estimation of all discharges of untreated or inadequately treated wastewater.”
  • 37. Town Response Hire yet another engineer to develop detailed cost estimates for installation of sewers New Draft Wastewater Facilities Plan - 2009 – Looked at scenarios including more users to lessen costs for those areas that really need sewers. DEM endorsed the plan and provide additional grant $$ to expand study – Town Council voted to ―take the draft plan under advisement‖ – Decided to task Town staff with: • preparing a cost/benefit analysis of sewers vs on-site treatment • beginning work on drafting a Wastewater Management District Ordinance
  • 38. September 2010 The dreaded NOTICE OF VIOLATION
  • 39. Notice of Violation Cites 19 separate incidents of contaminated discharge from Town-owned storm drains (some of it my data!) Orders Portsmouth to: – Integrate previous plans (which call for sewers to be installed) – Pay a fine of $186,000 – Install sewers in Island Park & Portsmouth neighborhoods within three years Town’s response: – There is no pollution……..and if there is, it’s your problem. – If you would just find and fix all the failing septic systems than there would not be any contamination in our storm drains. – Directed DPW to look into sleeving the storm drains and/or end-of-pipe treatment
  • 40. NOV cont. • Hired (at great expense) engineer that provided the original OWMP to provide a new plan. Essentially reversing his original recommendation - A ―sewer equivalent‖ alternative strategy. • July, 2011 - Plan is dead on arrival – Maximized use of on-site systems but made liberal use of cluster systems – Town did not bother to send it to DEM for comment • Hire a lawyer (at great expense) to concentrate narrowly on defeating the NOV Town to DEM: ―You don’t have the authority to force us to install sewers‖
  • 41. April 2013 New Draft On-Site Wastewater Management Plan – Makes argument that there is no site that cannot accommodate an on-site system – Technological advances, thorough IDDE, good education program – Sewers are not necessary • Features: – A full-time Wastewater Manager – Vigorous inspection program to find failed systems – Financial Aid – Education program • Current Status: – DEM has not commented on the draft plan – Hearing date coming up soon on the NOV – Cesspool Phase out Act - 2007
  • 42. Conclusions Local decision-making is highly political in nature and is fundamentally un-responsive to big picture environmental issues such as wastewater treatment Some Observations: – Because of jurisdictional ambiguity, this is a uniquely Rhode Island situation. – Events have taken place over a long period of time, not any one set of local decision-makers – Decision criteria and perspective different for politicians vs engineers/town staff – Classic tragedy of the common problem – Comfort in the details
  • 43. Chester CT Wastewater Planning
  • 44. Chester CT Wastewater Planning • Area specifics – Quaint Hamlet-style Main Street – Built-out – Nearby Chester Creek – Commercial center – Small existing sewer system to OWRS
  • 45. Chester CT Wastewater Planning • Wastewater issues – Existing OWRS hydraulically & nutrient overloaded – Consent Order – Financial & development concerns – Sensitive receptors – Dug wells – Failing septic - Health Care Facility
  • 46. Chester Wastewater Planning • Study area desktop analysis – Poor soils – Shallow depth to groundwater – Densely developed – Self-reported problems • Chesterfields failure
  • 47. Chester Wastewater Planning • Wastewater alternatives – Upgrade existing OWRS – Evaluate alternative OWRS location – Sewer to adjacent Town – Do nothing
  • 48. Chester Wastewater Planning • Upgrade Existing OWRS – Nutrient removal problems – Hydraulic problems – Bacteria die-off and virus inactivation problems
  • 49. Chester Wastewater Planning • Develop alternative OWRS site – Chesterfield Fairgrounds – Hydraulic capacity and cost issues
  • 50. Chester Wastewater Planning • Connection to sewer in adjacent Town – Inter-municipal negotiations – Development concerns – Costs vs ―do-nothing‖ approach – Public awareness campaign
  • 51. Chester Wastewater Planning • Solution – Small sewer connection to adjacent town – Shrink-wrapped sewer service area – 183 to 67 – Shrink-wrapped future sewer area as required – State funding • DEEP and STEAP – Capital repayment costs • $2,000 Residential • $6,000 Commercial • 75% Debt Service to Town – Consent Order lifted
  • 52. Old Saybrook Wastewater Planning • Wastewater Issues – TMDL for nitrogen into Long Island Sound – Unwanted development concerns – Seasonal occupation – No Nearby WWTP – Excessively draining soils or muck – Extremely small lots – Shallow depth to restrictive layer – Under Consent Order
  • 53. Old Saybrook Wastewater Planning • Regulatory challenges – 1989 Public voted against Regional Big Pipe Solution – DEEP issued NOV - twice – DEEP won…twice – Created Decentralized Wastewater Management District Legislation in 2003 – Mediation step in 2003-2005 – Funding mechanism established through Clean Water Fund
  • 54. Old Saybrook Wastewater Planning • Decentralized solution – Engineering report – Ordinance – Mediated decisions – $41M upgrade program – Collaborative workshop approach – 8 year Implementation Plan
  • 55. Old Saybrook Wastewater Planning • Decentralized solution – 1,900 properties – 15 focus areas – 250 - 300 AT systems
  • 56. Old Saybrook Wastewater Planning • Technical aspects – Mediated technical decisions – All cesspools removed – PHC repairs except: – If not, then AT (IA) required
  • 57. Old Saybrook Wastewater Planning • Non-conventional upgrades – Clustering or Community systems • Handle storm surges and climate change • AT systems dispersal
  • 58. Questions
  • 59. Village of Easttuxet, Pawchuham, SNE NOW IT’S YOUR TURN! Footer goes here
  • 60. Town of Easttuxet, SNE • Financially stable community • Grand list is weighted to residential • Plan of Conservation & Development identified need for wastewater planning • No existing sewers • Neighboring community has treatment plant with available capacity • Three areas to be investigated
  • 61. Area 1: Main Street downtown area • Old town center – Existing use is mostly retail – Older movie theater is main attraction – Existing septic systems are generally adequate for existing use, but limited expansion potential – One restaurant (septic tank pumped frequently) • Public water • POCD goal is to increase residential component and create more vibrant evening atmosphere • Public sewer approximately 3 miles away
  • 62. Area 2: Lakefront neighborhood • Pre-1960 as summer (seasonal) cottages, converted over time into full-time residences • Very small lots (most less than ) ½-acre; many 1/8-acre • Mostly cesspools, undersized steel tanks • Private wells, some ammonia detected • Some surface water pollution, but no TMDL • Shallow depth to groundwater • Public sewer approximately 2 miles away
  • 63. Area 3: Large residential area • Mostly developed since 1970 • Private wells, generally adequate drinking water quality • Mostly residential use • Predominantly 2-acre and 1-acre lots • Some farmland, and some conservation areas • A few failures, but no impaired water or groundwater • Public sewer is over 5 miles away
  • 64. Exercise Guidance • Consider challenges now and future (e.g. development) • Subsurface criteria influences choices
  • 65. Easttuxet, SNE
  • 66. Area 1: Main Street downtown area
  • 67. Area 2: Lakefront neighborhood
  • 68. Area 3: Large residential area
  • 69. Town of Easttuxet, SNE DISCUSSION OF EXERCISE RESULTS Footer goes here
  • 70. Closing Remarks & Takeaways • Be preemptive and know the soils, etc. – Private developments and public initiatives • The more sophisticated the treatment process, the more attention is needed for O&M • Beware of ―experts‖ promoting systems that sound too good to be true… • Coordinate zoning /land use regs with sewer capacity • It’s primarily your decision as a town – Engineering supports your goals