Oct 14, 2019

Proposal Diverts Sewer Plant Wastewater from Plymouth Harbor

Town officials are studying a proposal that could reduce chemical and pumping costs for the wastewater treatment system and improve aquifer recharging.

Proposal diverts wastewater from Plymouth Harbor

A proposal to divert the wastewater being dumped into Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts onto rapid infiltration beds is in the works. 

According to the Patriot Ledger, town meeting voters will be asked this fall to allocate $130,000 to study the proposal, which calls for the 1.5 million to 1.7 million gal of treated wastewater now dumped into Plymouth Harbor every day to be diverted onto 10 acres of “rapid infiltration beds.” 

The $130,000 pays for a consultant to conduct the nutrient testing and generate a report. 

Assistant Wastewater Manager Chad Whiting told the Patriot Ledger that the town has a permit with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that allows up to 1.7 million gal of treated wastewater from the wastewater treatment plant to be discharged into Plymouth Harbor, with any remaining wastewater discharged into the rapid infiltration beds behind the plant. 

The beds use septic systems and act as a filter for wastewater, pulling out toxins before they reach the groundwater, significantly improving the water quality of the harbor. 

The switch would help the groundwater recharge into the aquifer, reducing the town’s chemical and pumping costs for the wastewater treatment system and creating a filtering process for the plant’s wastewater as it percolates into the infiltration beds.

“We’re trying to reverse that so that we can use the infiltration beds first and not discharged into Plymouth Harbor if we don’t have to,” Whiting said to the Patriot Ledger. “We have monitoring wells we’ll be checking to ensure that what we’d discharge into the ground doesn’t have an affect on the groundwater.”

The DEP will conduct nutrient testing to determine the levels of nitrates and other nutrients that would filter into the beds. After this the town can compile the findings into a report and file for a permit modification with DEP, asking that the process be reversed. 

If approved, this would divert 1.7 million gal of treated wastewater from the harbor to the leaching fields.

The Town Meeting will weigh in on the request Oct. 19, reported the Patriot Ledger.

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