Halifax will apply for grant to study feasibility of water controls
By Mike Melanson
HALIFAX — If automatic valves and controls were installed at the Stump Brook Dam to remotely manage the water levels of the Monponsett Ponds, residents might be spared from record algal blooms and forced closures to swimming, fishing and boating.
Selectmen on Tuesday Sept. 23 voted, 3-0, to apply for a state grant to study the feasibility of and produce a conceptual design for using a supervisory control and data acquisition system, or SCADA system, to better monitor and control water levels at the ponds.
The project is estimated to cost $74,850.
Town Meeting appropriated $15,000 as a 20-percent match for the project.
Health Agent Cathleen Drinan is also donating 80 hours of in-kind service, at a value of $2,400, by sharing the progress of the feasibility study, planning, attending meetings and doing outreach.
Halifax will seek a Sustainable Water Management Initiative Grant from the state Division of Ecological Restoration for a feasibility study and conceptual design.
A final report would be ready by June 30, 2015, given a Dec. 22 grant award date.
Drinan and Russ Kleekamp, a civil engineer, proposed the measure Tuesday, and offered selectmen a written statement in support of it.
“A lot of improvements are needed,” Drinan said. “Keep forging ahead. Try to keep going.”
“This application is the first step in an implementation approach,” Kleekamp said.
According to the six-page statement, Brockton draws water from Silver Lake as a drinking water supply. Furnace Pond and Monponsett Ponds are connected by pipeline to supply water to Silver Lake to meet the city’s demand.
Before modifications were made to provide water supply, Stump Brook drained West Monponsett Pond to the Taunton River, and the Jones River drained Silver Lake to the Cape Cod Bay.
To provide water supply and industrial improvements, the Stump Brook was dammed, and the Jones River was dammed in three areas.
Residents surrounding Monponsett Ponds are concerned about algal blooms that have forced closures to swimming, fishing and boating, and are plagued by foul odors and views of neon green blooms, according to the statement.
Hydraulic retreat, due to man-made modifications, of the natural relief formerly provided by the Stump Brook, has idled the waters of West Monponsett Pond, resulting in prime conditions for record algal blooms.
In 2012, the state Division of Ecological Restoration awarded Halifax a $79,346 Sustainable Water Management Initiative grant to develop the Monponsett Pond and Silver Lake Water Use Operations and Improvements Report.
The report, prepared by Princeton Hydro, states that “existing water management practices are not sustainable.”
One of the drivers behind the “mismanagement,” according to the report, is the water level of Monponsett Ponds, especially West Monponsett Pond, which is closest to the Stump Brook Dam.
The Brockton water system uses the diversion to draw as many as 23-million gallons per day from Monponsett Ponds to Silver Lake. The withdrawal allotment from Silver Lake to the Brockton water system is 11-million gallons per day. The surplus 12-million gallons per day is deposited through the outlet of Silver Lake into the Jones River.
The man-made diversion creates a reversal of flows, flooding the Jones River, and putting Stump Brook into a state of drought.
The Stump Brook Dam is in the far corner of the Burrage Pond conservation area, time consuming to access, and has manually operated controls. The dam is neglected because of the time needed to frequently visit it. It is easier to open and control the diversion from Monponsett Ponds to Silver Lake by the pipeline at the East Monponsett Pond, than it is to control the elevations of the Monponsett Ponds from the Stump Brook Dam.
The report recommended automating controls at the Stump Brook Dam and other strategic locations.
Controls and the up-stream and down-stream ecosystem could be monitored and controlled remotely from an Internet ready device such as a smart-phone or tablet computer.
The feasibility study would recommend locations for automated controls, such as the Stump Brook Dam and diversion stations.
It would review available SCADA technology and compatibility requirements with the existing Brockton water supply system controls, and structural modifications to fit new controls at selected infrastructure points.
The study would recommend material and technology suppliers.
It would also determine operational procedures to maintain constant water levels of Monponsett Pond, and reduce excess diversion flows into the Jones River.
The study would produce a conceptual design and cost estimates for final design plan and construction, according to the statement.
Selectman Troy Garron said Brockton has state legislation in the city’s favor in terms of domain of the water supply, and that concerns him.
Halifax would be buying equipment for Brockton, Garron said, and the town should have a say over its use and accountability from the city, Garron said.
“All control goes into their hands. How do we know that they’re doing what they’re supposed to?” he said.
Selectmen Chairman Michael Schleiff said the state grant would get the door open to coming up with a solution.
“This is a step in the right direction, to get it off and running,” Schleiff said. “You may want to make it vandal-proof too.”
In other action Tuesday, selectmen voted, 3-0, to ask Town Administrator Charlie Seelig to write a letter to Brockton Water Commissioners on behalf of selectmen to request a meeting with the Monponsett Pond Working Group.
Selectmen Tuesday voted, 3-0, to reinstate a fuel storage permit held by Kozhaya Nessralla in connection with a farm stand at routes 58 and 106 and a farm on Hemlock Lane.
Selectmen in August voted to revoke the permit for nonpayment of taxes.
On Tuesday, Seelig said Nessralla has worked out a payment agreement with the treasurer-collector, and has agreed to pay $8,500 by the middle of November; $1,500 in January; $500 in February, March and April; and $1,500 in May. Then the agreement will be updated with the new treasurer-collector, Seelig said.
“Thank you for following through with these things. I appreciate it,” Garron said to Nessralla.
Nessralla said, “I was under the gun for awhile.”
Eagle Scout project
Selectmen Tuesday voted, 3-0, to approve a request by Robert Veno for an Eagle Scout project to fix up the dugouts at Shea Field behind the Halifax Elementary School.
Veno said the dugouts are in a state of disrepair, and he plans to raise funds to repair and repaint the dugouts.
“I was in baseball all of my life growing up. I thought I would like to give back to the program,” he said.
Veno said the project would cost $1,000 for materials and $200 for other expenses, and would be done in October.
“This is an ambitious project,” Schleiff said.