WVN #311: Stricter standards in treatment plant settlement
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Wayland's plan to replace the aging wastewater treatment plant on the site of the proposed Town Center has encountered controversy and delay, and more delay lies ahead. Some of the users, whose fees must cover costs now estimated at close to $5 million, have expressed alarm and threatened to leave the system.
When the Environmental Protection Agency approved a permit for the project in 2008, the Interior Department and a Sudbury environmentalist appealed the decision as too lenient on pollution discharge. Wayland's Board of Selectmen hired a Boston law firm to help negotiate a settlement.
A proposed settlement has been announced and a public comment period is under way.
DRAFT SETTLEMENT PROPOSES STRICTER STANDARDS
The EPA is proposing stricter standards for the new treatment plant at the former Raytheon site on Route 20. The new standards involve a year-round monthly average total phosphorus limitation of one-tenth of a milligram of phosphorus per liter of water discharged into the Sudbury River and a requirement to monitor copper discharge.
The original EPA permit's limit was two-tenths for April through October, and a monthly average limit of five-tenths for November through March.
The EPA weighed in with a re-examination of the original final permit after petitions were filed by the Department of the Interior, on behalf of the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, and private citizen Thomas Arnold. Among the petitions' challenges were the total phosphorus limits and authorization to relocate the outfall pipe ultimately discharging to the river.
Before the EPA permit was issued, Blair Davies was the chairman of Wayland's Wastewater Management District Commission, which is responsible for operating the treatment plant. When Davies proposed that river interests be consulted for their input, the selectmen saw the idea as delaying the construction of the Town Center project. Davies was replaced as chair, his term on the Commission expired more than a year ago, and nobody has volunteered to fill the vacancy. The EPA permit was subsequently issued on Sept. 30, 2008 with higher phosphorus limits than for any other recent permit on the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord river system.
The legal appeals to protect the Wild and Scenic River, Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, and Minuteman National Park have delayed final permit approval by about nine months and could do so for at least another six months.
The town was not a party to the two appeals, but petitioned to participate in the negotiations. April's Annual Town Meeting approved $100,000 to finance the town's legal intervention and Public Safety Building legal bills. To date, WVN calculates that legal expenditures for special counsel on this EPA matter have exceeded $130,000.
As part of the appeal settlement, the Interior Department and Arnold also are requiring the town to help pay for new extensive monitoring of river water quality and reduction of phosphorus fertilizer use by the town equal to three times the phosphorus output of the plant.
The filing of the appeals has stayed the entire permit until resolution. The EPA "statement of basis" says the four parties have reached an agreement that would resolve both appeals and has opened a public comment period from Aug. 12 through Sept. 10 for the draft modifications to the permit. Commenters also may request a public hearing, which would extend the comment period.
Town Administrator Fred Turkington issued a press release on Aug. 19 announcing the proposed settlement, saying, "We are pleased that the changes to the permit will not add significant new capital or operating costs to the treatment plant currently in final design." He went on to say "The settlement agreement with the appellants was hammered out over several months by special counsel Adam Kahn of the environmental firm Foley Hoag in Boston on behalf of the town and the Wastewater Management District Commission with attorneys for the Department of the Interior, Arnold and EPA."
Turkington's press release, published in the Aug. 27 Wayland Town Crier, is not posted on the town website. The press release does not inform readers that the modified permit for the town's plant is a draft, that there is an EPA public comment period for that draft, or that one can ask for a public hearing.
There are about two dozen users of the plant, including residences and businesses along Routes 20 and 27. Twenty Wayland, the Town Center developer, is the primary user.
Pertinent public documents were posted online by the EPA on Aug. 12:
Scroll down to document #69 plus exhibits #1-6 which include the Aug. 12 Status Report providing a chronology of the legal appeals, the new settlement agreement and the draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit with modifications.
Exhibit 6 provides the following address for submitting written public comment and/or for requesting a public hearing on this matter: US EPA, Office of Ecosystem Protection, Attention: Brian Pitt, One Congress Street, Suite 1100, Boston, MA 02114-2023.
Also recommended reading is the following "statement of basis" for the modified permit:
The draft permit and the Aug. 12 MetroWest Daily News legal notice announcing the public comment period were posted on the wastewater commissioners' webpage on Aug. 19:
-- WVN Staff
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DORAN ROAD DEVELOPMENT MEETING
There will be a meeting Monday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall to discuss proposals to develop vacant land in the Doran Road area for affordable housing.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor