Marion to study environmental impact on wastewater systems

Dec 11, 2018

MARION — With grant money provided by the state, Marion will begin to study the impact of climate change on its wastewater pumping stations which could be at risk of flooding in the future.

During a Monday Selectmen meeting, mitigation engineer Frannie Bui of CDM Smith gave a presentation of the ongoing study to determine the effects of climate change on Marion’s wastewater infrastructure. 

This year, Marion was awarded a $93,660 Coastal Resilience Grant from the Office of Coastal Zone Management to complete the study.

According to Bui, the primary goal of the study is to conduct a vulnerability assessment of Marion’s pumping stations and to recommend potential improvements to the town. 

“The current pump stations, as they are designed today, are designed to a condition in the past,” said Bui. “What the Commonwealth is asking us to do is look at them — in the future.”

Bui stated that the analysis slated for Marion is also being completed across the Massachusetts coast. She added that Wareham recently applied for a grant to implement some measures which were recommended after conducting a similar study. 

A major piece of the study is the examination of a potential increase in sea level and the stations located in flood zones. 

“We have to take into account the underlying component, which is potential future sea level rise, to ensure that all units of a 100 year flood are operating and uninterrupted in operation,” stated Bui. 

In other words, the study will look at the current conditions of the system and assess whether or not the pumping stations can withstand extreme flooding.

Based on projections and “worst case scenario” data, engineers will recommend improvements to avoid any damage to the wastewater infrastructure, said Bui. 

Seven of the eight pumping stations in Marion are currently located inside a flood zone, said Town Planner Gil Hilario. Three of the stations are vulnerable to wave damage, he added. 

“It’s unusually high compared to other towns,” said Hilario. 

Hilario stated that a number of pumping stations are already in need of attention, citing electrical controls vulnerable to water damage and water infiltration at two separate stations. 

Depending on the results of the analysis, the town will be able to choose between minor fixes or a massive overhaul of pumping stations demonstrated to be at risk of flooding in the future. 

CDM Smith will present a progress update at a meeting in both January and February, and plan to complete the study in June.