The perceived risks include the fear that the sewer plant could fail and the town would then be on the hook for this plant. The Committee consulted the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and determined they have no recorded incidents of sewage treatment plant failures.
Another perceived risk is that the sewer plant would not generate enough revenue to pay for the plant or operation. This has happened in neighboring towns, and we have learned from their experience. Risk is minimized for Littleton by conducting a thorough Preliminary Design Report, and, should the plant go to construction, by constructing the plant in phases and only constructing capacity as contracted demand occurs (Strategy
In its first phase, 30,000 gallons per day of new treatment capacity would be constructed at a cost of $4.3 million (pipes and treatment). If it proves to produce income, as the study suggests, an additional $3.2 million would be spent to add energy generation facilities. Combined, energy generation and user fees would be used to meet the $7.5 million obligation. In the alternative, user fees would meet the $4.3 million obligation (Strategy
pp.64-68). If no further demand due to growth occurs, no further capital investment would be made.
If the plant is not built, development in the Town Common and industrial districts is limited. Due to the lack of wastewater capacity, existing property owners have few options. Property owners also face expensive repairs or replacements to their existing septic systems over time.
Lacking wastewater options, it is less likely the Town will realize new property tax revenues from the Common district due to growth.
Nitrate levels in groundwater in the Common are elevated and becoming a concern. A sewer system would eliminate the problem. By returning treated effluent to the ground in the watershed where the water was originally taken (Beaver Brook) the sewer system would restore some flow in the Brook, and its water quality would improve (Strategy
p. 17).Click here for answers to more Frequently Asked Questions Click here
to read the full Strategy Report
Thank you to each and every one of you who made it out last night to the Littleton Common Sewer Feasibility Study Committee Public Forum. The room was filled and it is fulfilling to know that we have many active and concerned citizens in town.
If you missed the LCSFSC Public Forum last night, please tune in and watch it on LCTV:
Thursday April 25, 2013
Friday April 26, 2013
Here is a link to the LCTV schedule: http://www.littletonma.org/content/13221/18561/default.aspx
This important topic could impact all of us. We hope the information presented will help you to understand what you will be asked to vote on this coming Fall.
Tuesday April 23, 7PM
Littleton Police Department
Please come to hear a brief presentation from the Littleton Common Sewer Feasibility Study Committee and join in a discussion with the committee members.
Bring your questions and plan to attend!
A parcel-by-parcel assessment of existing uses and potential market driven development enabled by sewer infrastructure was conducted. This analysis is included as Appendix R in The Study. Excluded were strictly residential properties and properties in the public trust.
Within the Study Area, the Town of Littleton could expect to see a real property tax increment of some $2.3 million within the next twenty years. In addition, if the lifestyle center is built as proposed by Park & Co., it would generate some $2.8 million in property tax revenue at completion, regardless of whether or not the sewer system is developed for the town. If the other private property owners identified in section 3.6 above were to maximize the development potential of their proposed projects with their anticipated wastewater disposal needs being served by a smart sewer project, an additional $2.2 million of property tax revenue could be anticipated.
Total potential new property tax revenues to the Town over 20 years could be $7.3 million at current rates. This would be a 50% increase over current property tax income, which is approximately $14 million.
T O W N O F L I T T L E T O N
Littleton Common Sewer Feasibility Study Committee
c/o Board of Selectmen/Town Administrator’s Office
37 Shattuck Street, Littleton, Massachusetts 01460
TELE 978 540-2460/FAX 978 952- 2817
Megan Ford, Chairman
April 8, 2013
Town of Littleton
Board of Selectmen
37 Shattuck Street
Littleton, Massachusetts 01460
Dear Mr. Champney and Selectmen,
At the Littleton Common Sewer Feasibility Study Committee (LCSFSC) meeting on April 8, 2013, the committee voted to request that the Selectmen remove Article 8 Borrowing: Littleton Common Smart Sewering Preliminary Design from the May 6, 2013 Annual Town meeting. This decision was made due to the compressed schedule and the amount of information we have found is needed to be shared with the general public. We feel that postponing until Fall Town Meeting will allow for a better opportunity to inform the residents and voters of this complex topic.
Additionally, we feel that we need more time to meet with Town Boards and Committees to fully inform and discuss with them the details of our study.
Also, it is no secret that there is a group of residents who are outwardly opposed to the Preliminary Design and we would like to take the time between now and Fall Town Meeting to sit down with those opposed to fully hear and understand their concerns.
During this time between now and Fall Town Meeting, we will plan additional public forums near the fall, meet with property owners and will continue to utilize any available resources so that we may fully inform the public.
On behalf of the LCSFSC,
Megan Ford, Chair
The Littleton Common Sewer Feasibility Study Committee (LCSFSC) was established by the Board of Selectman after the Town voted to do so in May 2010. It was recommended by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to do so in order to help our Town’s economy.
MAPC is a regional organization that helps over 100 communities in the Greater Boston area manage growth and development through changes to their zoning regulations and "smart growth" policies. You can read about the MAPC here: http://www.mapc.org/smart-growth-principles
A few issues have been discussed throughout Town over the last several weeks. The LCSFSC is in tune with those and wants to inform the public that many of these are considered in the planning process.
For instance, many residents have asked how the 98 properties are going to pay for this multi-million dollar sewer collection and treatment plant. It seems daunting for a small business to pay their portion, if you divide the estimated costs equally across those property owners. The costs are not divided evenly though, the construction costs and maintenance costs are divided proportionally according to water use.
As an example, a restaurant, that may use 4,200 gallons per day, will pay a greater portion than an office of that uses 600 gallons per day. The betterment fees, which are assessed to property owner to pay for the construction of the system, are proportional to the use: more use, larger betterment. The maintenance costs will be billed at least partially (more on this in a future blog) based on use as they are in most sewer systems. The monthly or quarterly sewer bills are calculated as a percentage of use, based on an assumption that a calculated percentage of water used is disposed to the system.
In the case of Littleton, there will be two users that will have a large proportion of the use and will combine to contribute between 40 and 70 percent of the flow; The Point and IBM. These two properties will therefore pay a larger betterment, and their use fees will be higher. Therefore, the small property owners who want to convert from say retail to restaurant, although their betterment may increase, it will not be 1/98th of the cost.
This leads to other questions, why would IBM and The Point connect to a municipal plant if they already have one? And what happens if IBM leaves town? Check back for additional blogs addressing those questions.
“Smart sewering” uses the power of water and wastewater infrastructure to influence growth and development, to promote the concept of “smart growth,” more dense development in a village or town center, relieving pressure to sprawl with big box stores into agricultural and forested open space. At its core is the concept of building infrastructure that works with, not against, the natural water cycle to enhance both our natural and human environments. There are many reasons to invest in smart sewering, a few are discussed below:
Water Quality: Traditional septic systems do not adequately treat nutrient pollution, nor do they target emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals. Water flows from septic systems, to leach fields into our common groundwater supply. Elevated pollution levels in groundwater can negatively impact water quality both in our drinking water sources and our local surface water bodies. High nutrient concentrations in lakes and river can lead to overgrowth of aquatic plants and algae which alters the natural balance of an aquatic ecosystem.
Smart sewering: Wastewater is treated to a very high quality through the use of constructed treatment wetlands which target nutrient and emerging pollutants. In Littleton, smart sewering the Common district would address the real issue of groundwater pollution. Groundwater in the Common suffers elevated nitrate levels, in the 3 to 5 mg/liter range, where normal background in Littleton is 1 mg/liter. State drinking water standards are set at 10 mg/liter. Putting the Common district on a smart sewer system would eliminate the nitrate-loading problem.
Water Quantity: Traditional sewer systems can dramatically “de-water” groundwater supplies as fissures in sewer pipes allow groundwater to seep into the pipe (infiltration) and be transported to wastewater treatment plants. This causes a variety of issues including mixing relatively clean groundwater with highly contaminated sewage, exporting critical groundwater supplies to surface water bodies (sometimes many miles from its source), reducing drinking water supplies, and reducing river baseflow which is supplied by groundwater.
Smart sewering: Wastewater treatment is broken up into multiple discrete systems. Wastewater is treated in or close to the subwatershed from which the drinking water was originally withdrawn returning clean groundwater flows to the aquifer from which it was pumped, eliminating the export of water to rivers or Boston Harbor. In Littleton’s case, a “water balance,” study performed in 2000-2001 (link: http://crwa.org/projects/EZ/ez.html), showed that water from public wells located to the north and west of I-495 ends up in septic systems located south and east of I-495. The water discharged to septic systems south and east of I-495 never makes it back to the groundwater and surface water bodies to the north and west. The reason? I-495 roughly demarcates a watershed divide between the Merrimack River to the north and west, and the Concord River, to the south and east. The study showed that as a consequence there is a 34% drawdown of flow in Beaver Brook during the summer and fall, which actually increases the concentration of pollutants in the stream. Smart sewering, by returning treated effluent to the ground in the same subwatershed from which it was pumped would help alleviate this impact.
Conservation of Open Space: Traditional sewer systems allow for an increase in development beyond what is typically allowed by septic systems. In fact, in some cases the addition of a sewer system provides incentive for a community to promote sprawl to help pay for the cost of the system. For this reason many small or rural communities oppose the addition of sewer systems to their communities.
Smart sewering: Small-scale, discrete wastewater systems are used to treat waste from a limited, designated zone which the community identifies as an area where development is supported. While the decision on where and how to develop ultimately lies within the individual community, the concept proposed is to develop vibrant, walking village centers that reduce the need for driving within a community, while preserving open and agricultural space beyond the boundaries of the village center.
Alternative Energy and Water Reuse Generation: Wastewater is rich in many resources which under traditional systems are presently “discarded” or underutilized.
Smart sewering: All opportunities for energy generation through anaerobic digestion or co-digestion and water reuse are explored for incorporation into wastewater treatment. Anaerobic digestion uses the biological material in wastewater to generate energy which can fully or partially power the wastewater treatment system. Co-digestion incorporates food waste or septage (content of pumped septic systems) into the energy generation process, reducing the demand for landfill space to dispose of this material. Anaerobic digestion of wastewater, along with solar power, is presently used to power the Deer Island Treatment Plant in Winchester, MA which treats wastewater from 43 communities in eastern Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) which operates the plant is currently exploring opportunities for co-digestion.
Fully or partially treated water can also be sold for use in certain commercial or industrial processes which do not require drinking water quality water. This reduces the demand on clean groundwater sources and the energy to treat water to full drinking water quality, when that level of treatment is not necessary.
Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Many traditional wastewater systems rely on traditional energy sources, such as fossil fuels, and are sited in close proximity to water bodies (rivers or the ocean). Burning fossil fuels leads to the production of greenhouse gases, the cause of global climate change. Many experts predict that global climate change will result in a rise in sea levels which will destroy or damage critical infrastructure, including wastewater treatment plants. Large, consolidated plants leave municipalities vulnerable in the case of a catastrophic event affecting a treatment plant.
Smart sewering: Alternative energy production is a key part of the smart sewering concept, tapping a presently under-utilized resource to generate energy. Discrete systems provide redundancy and resiliency which are important infrastructure goals as we move into a phase of changing climate conditions.
●Will the facility or discharge/recharge area generate noise or odor?
No. There has been an anaerobic digester operating at the Veryfine plant in Littleton for over 20 years.
●Is there a chance of ground water contamination?
No. There is a certainty of groundwater enhancement in the case of drought, as well as Beaver Brook water quality enhancement.
●Are our lakes safe?
Yes. The effluent discharged to the ground will, when it reaches surface water bodies, actually enhance water quality in them.
●Will nearby residents have to accept truck traffic in addition to noise and odor?
The plant, even at full build-out, is by sewer standards very small. If designed to do so, a maximum of one to three trucks a day would be added to Littleton roads at full build out to deliver food waste and/or septage. No odors.
●What happens if the funding scheme fails to generate enough revenue to maintain the Treatment Plant, will the choice be more odor or more taxes?
Phasing is not a funding scheme, but a capital investment plan based on actual contracted demand. Risk of revenue failure from the district is therefore low. Nevertheless, should revenues not cover expenses, the town would be responsible for the difference. Sewage treatment plants of this type do not generate odors; they are housed entirely within buildings. They do not look like your average wastewater treatment plant from the 1970s. The residents surrounding the Veryfine plant on Harvard Road, which has been operating an anaerobic digester for over 20 years, can testify to this.
Did you know the Littleton Village Common has the most restrictive Zoning of anywhere in Town thanks to a voter approved Zoning Amendment in 2010?
These Zoning Controls are tighter than most Historic Districts allow. This zoning is specifically designed to protect the Village Common from change. It compels property owners in the Village Common to match what’s there now. It describes and compels specific parameters for matching local scale, massing, roof shape the exterior materials and appearances, windows, canopies, service and utility areas, landscaping, sustainable design, parking for autos and bicycles, and pedestrian friendly features that promote walking within the Littleton Village Common district. The Zoning specifically notes that new and renovated properties are to be consistent with the Town’s sense of history, human scale and pedestrian-oriented village character.
The existing Zoning requirements are already restricting development through parking, lot setbacks and lot coverage.
These alone are one of the reasons so little has changed in this district.
What exists now is probably going to remain with or without sewers and if property owners decide to renovate or rebuild as the Toyota dealer did recently, they have to meet these strict criteria with or without sewers.
The restrictions on a property owner who decides to buy two lots and combine them remains unchanged with or without sewers. Lots cannot be combined by Right.