Town seeks $10 million to fix sewer

Oct 9, 2019

The town could vote to appropriate up to $10 million for the design and construction of three process improvements at the Water Pollution Control Facility at the Fall Town Meeting.

The project would target the issue of extended peak inflow and infiltration flows that overwhelm the treatment facility. These excessive flows cause a number of problems. 

The treatment facility cannot properly treat the higher flow levels and it discharges some untreated wastewater to the ground, which not only violates the discharge permit but also goes directly into groundwater which will then reach the Agawam River, causing a highly negative environmental impact. 

“One of the highest issues of the excessive flows is a diversion to an unlined area which is a violation of existing discharge permit," said GHD Senior Project Manager Russ Kleekamp. 

GHD is a company that would be designing the upgrades.

Accumulation of untreated wastewater, especially in the spring, can also lead to unpleasant odors and costly clean up as clogged filters require extended maintenance and man-hours for cleaning and flushing. 

“When you get these very high flows in springtime, equalization basins don't have enough time to drain. Equalization basins are used to equalize high flows over two or three days.The accumulation of dried sludge forms leads to an increase in odor,” said Kleekamp.  

The solution would involve adding a denitrification filter to the Water Pollution Control Facility, constructing a smaller covered lined basin dedicated to managing odors, and constructing a new lined basin and piping to manage excessive flows that exceed the capacity of the current equalization basins. 

The Water Pollution Control Facility is a seeking zero-to-low interest loan via the State Revolving Fund for up to $10 million. The matter will go before voters at Town Meeting on Oct. 28.