Marion gets report on connecting to Wareham sewage treatment

Nov 27, 2018

MARION — If Marion doesn’t addresses its wastewater woes on its own, the Environmental Protection Agency is prepared to issues fines – up to $50,000 per day – come Dec. 1 2019.   

Officials and residents have taken steps to avoid that by approving $2.5 million in wastewater upgrades earlier this year. The move allowed the EPA to renew the plant’s operating permit, but a longer term solution is needed. On Monday, a report issued by engineering company GHD outlined a potential way forward, which would include a $22.6 million project linking into Wareham’s sewer system.

That is only possible if Wareham successfully relocates its sewage outflow to the Cape Cod Canal, which would expand capacity. Those plans are slowly moving forward and are backed by the Buzzards Bay Coalition, Wareham officials and the EPA. 

By moving the pipe, which discharges treated wastewater, the Wareham facility would be primed to take in additional wastewater from surrounding towns, including Marion, said Town Administrator Paul Dawson.

The expectation is that, if found to be feasible, Wareham and participating towns would negotiate a deal for a regionalized project, cutting costs.

Monday’s report detailed three plans to install a connection from Marion’s Front Street pumping station to Wareham’s sewer infrastructure. Of those options, only one was deemed financially feasible.

According to Dawson, the overhaul may eliminate the need for Marion to continue to own and operate its wastewater treatment plant. 

“Our treatment plant would be essentially closing, at least in the way it works now,” he said. “It could become some sort of pumping station, but it would not be the treatment plant.” 

Dawson admitted that the project would be costly but added that plans and the regionalization efforts would benefit residents.

“Marion has 1,692 rate payers in our sewer system and they’re shouldering the burden on pretty significant debt, and more to come,” said Dawson. “To regionalize it is to spread the costs out.”

Dawson said it is not known how the estimated $22.6 million cost of tying into Wareham’s system would be financed

He said upgrades currently slated for the wastewater treatment plant in Marion may no longer be needed if the regionalization plans are viable. 

The $2.5 million upgrades were approved at the May 2018 Town Meeting. The EPA granted Marion's wastewater treatment plant a new operating permit, with the understanding that it would meet several requirements, including building upgrades, lining one sewer lagoon and limiting phosphorus and nitrogen leakages.