Board of Health hears comments on proposed sewer change

Jun 16, 2020

MARION — The Board of Health opened a hearing on proposed changes to sewer regulations and heard one argument for and against the proposal at a June 16 meeting. It will continue the hearing until July 7 to allow more time for feedback. 

The new regulation would require homeowners to to install nitrogen-reducing septic systems if installing a new septic system or if their system failed inspection during a home sale. 

Wareham passed a similar regulation seven years ago, and Tisbury four years ago. Nitrogen is a problem because when it gets in the water, it fuels the growth of algae, which makes the water brown and blocks sun to plants like eelgrass which support fish and shellfish. 

The modified sewer systems fix the problem by converting nitrogen from a form that will cause damage to ecosystems to a harmless gas form. 

Board of Health Member Dot Brown said two thirds of the town’s residents who use its sewer are stepping up their support by investing in a $7 million wastewater lagoon treatment problem, while the other third with septic systems are “actively polluting the water,” adding that, “the town is making a significant investment and allowing new sources of nitrogen threatens to undo that investment.”  

Marion developer Sherman Briggs was concerned about the cost and ongoing maintenance of the nitrogen-reducing systems, as he has installed several of them and was not impressed with the amount of maintenance they required. 

He proposed instead that the board work with the Sewer Commissioners to determine locations where the town can extend its sewer system. 

Marc Bellanger commented in support of the board’s plan. He said he came to the same conclusions as the board based on his research on nitrogen, and agreed with their “common sense approach” to the issue. 

To submit feedback on the proposed change, Marion residents can email by June 30 or call in at the continuation of the hearing on July 7.