An overview of Marion’s lagoon overhaul project

Jul 13, 2020

MARION — The $7 million project has been in talks for years; a lining of one of three lagoons at the town’s wastewater treatment plan to ensure waste is stored in accordance with modern standards for waste treatment. 

There have been meetings, public hearings, letters to state representatives, Town Meeting votes and a lawsuit over it. The funds are allocated for the project and work is starting at the beginning of next month, but how does one line a lagoon? 

Department of Public Works Director David Willett said in short, the project has three steps: decommission the lagoon, dredge and drain it, and restructure it with an impervious lining.

For decommissioning, the air lines in the lagoon, which help break down the biosolids inside it, need to be removed from its structure. 

After that, the lagoon is drained and dredged. Once the liquid is removed, the biosolids will be collected and transported to an approved disposal site.

Then, the lagoon can be fitted with an impervious polymer lining.

While the process sounds simple, the project will be time-consuming.

Draining the lagoon will take a month and a half alone because of its size. It is approximately five acres.

“By no means is it something that’s going to happen in a week,” Willett said.

Draining is projected to start in early August, but it is dependent on the timeline of the construction company, Meuthen, who is handling it. If the company finishes its current project ahead of schedule, then the restoration project can start early. 

The equipment for the project is also being shipped from Florida. The lagoon is projected to be drained and dredged by Labor Day. 

The town had been under pressure to line the lagoon in the last few years from the Environmental Protection Agency and from the Buzzards Bay Coalition, which filed suit against the town in January 2018 for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The case was dropped in July 2019 when the town entered into an agreement with the EPA that requires the town to line lagoon one. 

Once the lagoon is lined, it can go back into use again.

The project timeline will also depend on the weather since it will take place during hurricane season. While the rainfall would divert from the first lagoon into the other two, it could cause problems for the project timeline.

The lagoon also serves as a wildlife habitat for different animals. Willett said the birds who live there can migrate to the two other lagoons on the property. Crews will move any animals, like snapping turtles and other species that live in the waters, to the other two lagoons as they find them during construction.