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In 2001 the Town of Hopkinton began the preparation of a Town-wide Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan/Environmental Impact Report (CWMP/EIR) to identify areas within the Town with existing and potential sub-surface wastewater disposal problems and to develop a plan to mitigate or eliminate the problems. The Town established a special procedure for the review of the project in conjunction with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office that lays out a four-phase process during which the scope of future phases is based largely on the results of the preceding phase while following the Massachusetts DEP January 1996 CWMP Guidelines. The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) issued certificates that the Phase I, Needs Analysis and Phase II, Screening of Alternatives documents adequately and properly comply with MEPA.

The Phase I Report identified seven study areas where existing on-site wastewater disposal systems are inadequate for long-term wastewater disposal. The Phase II Report identified alternative solutions for those areas, and based on a pre-approved scope of work, screened 22 potential sites for use in the development of a wastewater treatment facility and/or groundwater disposal. This second Phase presented alternatives for local (in-Town) treatment and disposal with technologies that will provide an appropriate level of wastewater treatment that will allow for treated effluent discharge, thus groundwater recharge, within the borders of Hopkinton. The approach follows the State's Watershed Initiative goal of “keeping water local”. The preliminary investigation of the 22 identified sites and more detailed series of soil tests of the remaining four sites resulted in the elimination of all but two sites for further investigation. The preliminary investigations and results of the testing indicated that the two remaining sites, Fruit Street and Weston Nurseries, show promise as suitable groundwater discharge sites of the highly treated wastewater effluent. Use of one or both of these sites could have far-reaching effects on the ability of the Town to determine its own “wastewater” destiny as well as provide relief on the current Town municipal water supply. Ultimately, this plan will provide much relief of up to 0.5 mgd on the current Water Management Act in the summer months. In addition, the plan provides a unique opportunity to assist in the clean up of the Assabet River by reducing the amount of nutrients discharged into the river.

Conceptual plans, based on hydrogeological work completed to date, could allow Hopkinton to continue to send up to 750,000 gallons per day (gpd) of wastewater to the Town of Westborough Wastewater Treatment Facility. The capacities of the two afore-mentioned sites show the potential to allow the total of 750,000 gpd of wastewater originating in Hopkinton to be treated in Westborough and to return a significant volume of treated wastewater for groundwater disposal and recharge of the Town's aquifers located within stressed river sub-basins. This concept potentially provides numerous benefits to both Hopkinton and the Assabet River Basin, as it would have a direct, positive impact on the recommendations of the on-going Assabet River Consortium Regional CWMP/EIR Project. All of the above flows are generated in the Concord River Basin and would be discharged back to the same basin thus eliminating any inter-basin transfers (IBT). The Massachusetts Water Resources Commission stated: “It is the opinion of WRC staff that IBT review is not necessary for either Westborough option. Hopkinton's water supply originates in the Concord River Basin. The Westborough wastewater treatment is located in the Concord River Basin as well. If the Town opts to treat the wastewater in Westborough and discharge it back to a site in Hopkinton, we believe that IBT review will not be warranted”.

The Weston Nurseries site potential presents a completely different set of decisions to be made, as not only is groundwater discharge being proposed at this site but reuse as well. The Nursery currently draws up to 0.5 mgd a day off the Town's municipal wells during the high growing season but could be as high as 1.0 mgd if an adequate water supply was available. The current plan proposes discharge of up to 1.0 mgd of highly treated effluent to a “constructed groundwater site”, which would overflow to unlined irrigation ponds on site. The ponds will be used for spray irrigation of the nursery crops, thus relieving demand on the municipal wells. The “constructed groundwater site” would be designed to meet DEP guidelines. Based on the groundwater elevation at the selected sites, a mounded or raised system would be constructed to receive the highly treated effluent with overflow into either wetlands or ponds, which would be used for irrigation during the growing season and allowed to percolate into the ground or wetlands during the low growing season and the winter months.

The substantial benefits of this plan are summarized, as follows: (1) Conforms to the State's Watershed Initiative of “keeping water local”; (2) Eliminates the need for an IBT with the Town of Milford; (3) Reduces nutrient loadings to the Assabet River from Hopkinton's present and future flows; (4) Potentially reduces additional Assabet nutrient loadings for additional flow above and beyond that generated in Hopkinton being returned to the ground in Hopkinton; (5) Provides sustainability to Weston Nurseries, providing for agricultural land preservation and keeping and potentially creating additional job opportunities; (6) Provides recharge into existing stressed sub-basins; (7) Eliminates potential “sprawl' from the future development of agricultural land; (8) Provides for a win-win for the Town of Hopkinton and Town of Westborough as well as the entire Assabet River Consortium communities; (9) Provides for a greater “water balance” in the Concord Basin; (10) Relieves the Town of Hopkinton municipal water supply of potentially 0.5 mgd during the summer months, thus relieving the current WMA limit; (11) Promotes a unique implementation for the state's environmental and smart growth policies and guidelines; and (12) Becomes a model not only for “Comprehensive Wastewater Management Planning” goals but the State's “Reuse” Guidelines as well.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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