A draft report of Waitsfield’s water and wastewater feasibility study outlines multiple options for the town, going forward, to increase wastewater capacity in the town which could open the door for more housing and infill development.
This week, the Waitsfield Select Board received an update from Alice Peal, chair of the water and wastewater study committee as well as chair of the Waitsfield Planning Commission, on the study which is at 60% completion. The study is being done by Dubois and King and is funded completely by grants. The 60% report is not yet public but will be once the committee has reviewed and accepted it.
The study focuses on existing and potential water and wastewater in the Waitsfield Village, Irasville and land as far north as the town gravel pit and as far south as the town-owned Munn property.
At an August 22 meeting, Peal told the select board, whose members have received copies of the report, that the engineers break down town options in six choices. Option one calls for the town to do nothing and wastewater would continue to be managed privately.
Option two calls for the town to try to connect properties within the town’s municipal water system service area to the water system. That would free up land currently being used for well-shields for wastewater. Property owners would have the ability to replace or expand their septic systems and could also provide the infrastructure for infill development.
Town administrator Annie Decker-Dell’Isola said that there are some 575 acres in the study area with 54.5 currently estimated to be needed for well-shields.
If those the wells in that 575-acre study area were connected to the town water system, 30 acres of the 54.5 are estimated in the draft study to be well suited for wastewater, she explained.
Asked how many gallons per day of wastewater that might yield and how many existing and new households that might serve, Decker-Dell’Isola explained that the actual wastewater disposal capacity that that might provide would need to be determined on a lot-by-lot basis.
“But as an example even 5% of that land (1.4 acres) is estimated to provide wastewater storage capacity of 96,000 gpd, enough to accommodate 230 homes,” she explained.
The third option outlined in the draft is to work to increase capacity at existing leachfields where there are well-suited soils either by increasing the size/area or adding pre-treatment options. The fourth option calls for the town to develop community wastewater systems on one or more different sites. The town-owned Munn field on Route 100 just north of Kingsbury Road is one such site.
In 2008 town voters rejected a plan to develop town wastewater on that property and the town has since created a revolving loan fund that has funded five state certified wastewater systems/system upgrades in the town, including one for Lawson’s Finest and one at Localfolk Smokehouse.
The capacity at that site, at the time, was thought to be up to 90,000 gallons a day, but technology in wastewater treatment has changed since then.
“We're hoping to receive more information on the impacts of tertiary/secondary treatment systems in the next draft of the report. For now, the report includes detail that the Munn site could accommodate 17,500 gpd without a filtration or tertiary system so more on this one to come,” Decker-Dell’Isola said.
The fifth option includes managing the existing state permitted systems to increase capacity and reduce the size and cost of new wastewater treatment and disposal systems. The sixth option calls for some combination of options two through five.
Peal reported to the select board that the town is eligible and in the queue for more funding from the state for a preliminary engineering report when the town is ready to select an option.
“When we chose to move into a preliminary engineering report it will be fully funded for us and by the end of February we’d be in the queue and in line for more ARPA funding for the project. We’d be elible for up to $3.9 million in grant funding,” Peal told the board.
She thanked her committee members for their time and volunteer service.