The Halifax Board of Selectmen heard a plan to address the algae and phosphorous levels at West Monponsett Pond from Craig Curtin and Russ Kleekamp, engineers at GHD, one of the world’s leading professional services companies operating in the global markets of water, energy, resources, and environment at their meeting on Tuesday, May 24. Addressing the problem was approved at Halifax’s Annual Town Meeting.
Halifax wants to use GHD’s plan to reduce the total phosphorous load from stormwater by 50% as required by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In order to do this, Curtin and Kleekamp started by making a map of the existing drainage system to help create the new drainage systems.
Kleekamo said there are seven steps/strategies associated with the project to be addressed. They include:
• Public education and outreach.
• Illicit discharge detection and elimination.
• Public involvement and participation in storm water municipal permitting. (SWMP).
• Construction site stormwater control.
• Stormwater management in new development and redevelopment.
• Good housekeeping and pollution prevention.
• Program evaluation, record keeping, and reporting.
Town Adminstrator Charlie Seelig noticed some sewer run off areas on the map that didn’t look like they were being addressed and asked about it. Russ Kleekamp, project manager, said, “The permit ,only addresses point sources.”
Craig Curtin emphasized the amount of work that has already been laid out for this project. Curtin took a trip with Halifax’s Highway Department to look at catch basins and drainage pipes throughout the area. In total, 232 catch basins were opened.
Curtin said that they found a lot of trash in the catch basins, exemplified by a photo of the inside of a catch basin on Heron Road.
Further field verification showed a total of 40 outfalls discharging phosphorous into West Monponsett Pond. Kleekamp said that the phosphorous levels will be reduced by updating existing drainage systems. Preliminary designs were shown.
West Monponsett Pond is considered the priority for addressing outfalls. The Halifax Beach Association outfall is next priority. Kleekamp said that Hanson is also onboard for the project and has set aside funds for engineering.
Given there is about a five year window for Halifax to bring their phosphorous to levels acceptable by the DEP, the town plans to apply for project grants.
Kleekamp told the board there are grants available and the grant size needed is determined by the size of the project. Jaclyn Tomasello, of Halifax, graduates from Assumption College
He said the Provincetown project ended up receiving a multi-million dollar grant.
Kleekamp said of his plan, “This won’t be a cure-all for the ponds.” This is a multi-year project that will allow the town to become compliant, improve the water quality, and reduce the number of beach closures.
Selectmen met with a representative from Colonial Power who is trying to set up an electricity aggregation for Halifax.
Residents and small businesses will be automatically opted in to this program if approved, but are allowed to opt out thirty days prior to the aggregation if they are already receiving a similar service from National Grid. Opting in and out is also allowed without penalty. Those with private electricity where no basic National Grid services are not automatically opted in, but are allowed to join.
According to the representative, other towns are signing on to the aggregation including Pembroke, Kingston, and communities as far away as Mendon. Selectmen vice-chair Kim Roy asked if there would be a green option regardless if other towns want to go green.
The representative said, “Aggregation allows you to make the decision that’s best for Halifax.” He added that if other towns don’t want to go green, Halifax can still go green. Colonial power offers a non-green base price, but allows green aggregation as a resident option.
There were some positives and negatives that Colonial Power told the Board of Selectmen. Colonial Power mentioned cost being less at the beginning, but an increase to the cost of kilowatts per hour for the next couple of years after.
The Board approved continuing to look into Colonial Power, particularly the aggregation with other towns, but is exploring other options as well.
The Halifax Board of Selectmen restructured their board post Annual Town Meeting. Thomas Millias in now the Chairman of the Board, Kim Roy is Vice Chair, and Troy Garron is Clerk.
The Margaret Fitzgerald Garden will have their official opening ceremony on Memorial Day after the parade. Although the parade is dependent on good weather, the garden dedication ceremony will go on rain or shine.
Line item transfer requests were all approved for the following:
• Police wages to station maintenance
• Water Department gas and oil to data processing
• Fire wages to Fire Station maintenance
Permit fees for the school repair project were waived by a unanimous vote of the Board of Selectmen.
The Board briefly discussed the proposed Plymouth County Budget. Selectman Millias said his one concern was with the large increase in salaries in the Commissioners’ department.