Sewer department upgrades on Montague Special Town Meeting warrant

  • The Water Pollution Control Facility at 34 Greenfield Road in Montague plans to replace two outdated machines this year, pending the approval of Special Town Meeting voters. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The Water Pollution Control Facility at 34 Greenfield Road in Montague plans to replace two outdated machines this year, pending the approval of Special Town Meeting voters. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 2/22/2021 3:13:12 PM

MONTAGUE — Replacement of two outdated machines in the Water Pollution Control Facility are among the primary articles to come before Special Town Meeting voters on Thursday.

The two upgrades, together worth $285,000, will be paid for from a savings account that the sewer department keeps for major expenses, according to sewer Superintendent Chelsey Little. The money comes from sewer user fees.

The Feb. 25 Town Meeting is being held remotely, due to concerns about gathering indoors during the pandemic, plus the difficulty of conducting Montague’s relatively large Town Meeting outdoors in the winter. Special state laws enacted amid the pandemic allow representative Town Meetings, such as Montague’s, to meet remotely. Open Town Meetings, as most other local towns have, cannot be held remotely.

Both of the upgrades proposed by the sewer department would move the department away from technology that either no longer suits its needs, or is no longer industry standard, Little explained. Both have also been ordered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, meaning that the town can be fined for not complying, she added.

The first is a machine called a wastewater press. The machine the facility now uses was purchased when the department’s largest customers were paper mills. Now that those companies have left Montague, Little said, the Water Pollution Control Facility’s equipment is no longer optimally suited to the consistency of wastewater the sewer system handles, and so processing takes longer than it should.

“(The current machine) was basically made for paper mill pulp byproduct,” she said.

The second is a modern chemical disinfectant machine that would replace a chlorine disinfectant system that the town bought in the 1960s, Little said. Most sewer departments have moved away from using chlorine, Little said, and Montague is one of the few that still uses it.

The new system, which uses chemicals similar to household bleach, she explained, would be more cost effective, and would require less maintenance and hazard mitigation than the older chlorine system.

“It really needs to be overhauled,” Little said. “It has a lot of safety risks and hazard mitigation that you have to do to keep it on site.”

If approved by Special Town Meeting voters, the two new systems would be installed within the next year, Little said. The new wastewater press machine would likely be installed by June, and the disinfectant machine would be installed next winter, and would be finished before March of 2022.

Reach Max Marcus at
mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2020 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy