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Clarksburg Board OKs Engineering Firm to Begin Sewer Analysis
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
03:57AM / Friday, February 28, 2020
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Justin Skelly, project manager with David Prickett Consulting LLC, explains the work the company would do to address requirement of MassDEP and the Hoosac Water Quality District.

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The town has signed on with DPC Engineering of Longmeadow to address any infiltration and inflow issues with the sewer lines in accordance with an administrative order from the state Department of Environmental Protection. 
 
"Our sewer system which flows into North Adams and then into Williamstown and the Hoosac Water Quality District, there's some work that needs to be done, especially on the metering side of everything," explained Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher on Wednesday.
 
Inflow mainly refers to stormwater or surface waters infiltrating septic systems through a variety ways — drains, sump pumps — and through the deterioration of pipes. MassDEP requires surveys to detect excessive inflow and management plans to address the sources of infiltration and inflow. The first analysis reports were due in 2017.
 
Justin Skelly, project manager with David Prickett Consulting LLC, noted that town was well past that point but its situation was not unique. 
 
"We've done probably 10 similar projects over the past year trying to catch up with these regulations," he said. "Essentially, DEP is trying to get communities to understand what's currently installed and get a better handle on that."
 
The components of the work will be an analysis of the flow and the components of the system, developing a systems operation and maintenance plan, preparing forms for submission to MassDEP and helping the town address any system failures or deficits.
 
The current operator is Highway Foreman Kyle Hurlbut and a standard operating plan needs to be developed to ensure anyone stepping into his post in the future has the knowledge to continue maintenance of the system.
 
"The biggest component in our proposal that we've given to you is looking at your flows for the past three years to really analyze and understand if you have any issues with inflow or infiltration," Skelly said. "I will say Clarksburg is in a unique position because you do have a small system, and about 90 percent of your pipe is captured by a permanent building flow meter that you have installed as your flow goes to North Adams. So in other communities we'd actually have to go out and install these temporary flow meters for say a three-month window in the spring to collect this data."
 
Having that data available means a significant cost savings, he said. And that fact that the majority of the piping is fairly new (about 30 years or so) and PVC means the likelihood of infiltration is small. The one exception may be a small, much older segment, that's tied into the newer system. 
 
"If all goes well, it'll show that there's no issue with I&I and at that point, DEP will be satisfied," Skelly said. "If this phase one shows that a few of those areas that we're looking at do have some of this extraneous flow entering, then there will be subsequent phases to locate and remove that, whether it's lining the pipe or replacing a manhole. It could be as simple as a manhole cover with pickholes that needs to be replaced."
 
Phases 3 would be complying with HWQD requirements, such as documenting daily tasks and getting a plan on how to operate the collection system. Phase 4 would be monitoring the flow data annually and submitting the appropriate reports. 
 
"So it really starts with this initial high level look of your system as a whole, see if there are problems and then kind of nailing down from there," Skelly said. Later he explained that by monitoring flow and addressing inflow, "You can quantify what a gallon of you taking that out of the system actually costs you."
 
Hurlbut said the system was put in about 1989 and consists of 6-inch and 8-inch PVC pipe. "I'm very confident, by looking at numbers, we're not getting much [inflow]," he said. 
 
Skelly said his firm tries to work with communities on what it can do to help them adapt and shave costs. DPC has already taken on the work to get the town's paper maps of the sewer system digitized. 
 
The cost for doing the entire project is in the neighborhood of $70,000, with the majority the upfront cost of the Phase 1 report at $53,400.
 
"We try to be cognizant of a town's situation. These unfunded mandates from DEP really put a strain on a lot of communities and we run into this all the time," Skelly said. "We really strive to look at the financials of a project before we go out. ...
 
"That's really the intent of all these regulations the DEP is putting out is for towns to get away from the 'it's broke we have to fix it' approach to an asset management approach."
 
The board unanimously approved entering an agreement with DPC, with the costs to be paid out of the sewer enterprise fund, which is paid into by sewer users. The sewer system only covers the southern part of Clarksburg and the town acts as the conduit to pay North Adams for the flow entering its pipes that connect to the HWQD wastewater system in Williamstown. 
 
In other business, the Select Board discussed a host agreement with Chad Cellana of New England Regional Dispensaries, which plans to develop a marijuana cultivation center off 28 Cross Road. Cellana noted that some of the preliminary elements of the agreement have been modified in accordance with a state law passed in January. The Select Board asked for time to review the new language, which has also been sent to town counsel. 
 
• The Select Board voted 2-1, with member Danielle Luchi in dissent, to give town employees a 2.5 percent cost of living raise in the next budget to keep pace with national rate. Both Boucher and Luchi thought 2 percent would be fair. Luchi noted larger entities are keeping at 1 percent and any increase would also affect future calculations.
 
But member Jeffrey Levanos advocated for 2.5  percent if it didn't effect the budget. 
 
"We ask our employees an awful lot for very little," he said. 
 
"It's your job to set an appropriate amount for the hard-working people in this town, and an extra half percent is not going to skew that," said James Stakenas, a Finance Committee member. He and Town Administrator Rebecca Stone went to check budget numbers and came back with an estimate of $2,700 to give all the town employees an extra half percent. 
 
That convinced Boucher to flip his vote, but Luchi said she would "stick with the 2 percent, I think that's very fair."
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