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Belchertown stormwater project gets green light



Staff Writer
Thursday, March 08, 2018

BELCHERTOWN — A stormwater management project along Federal Street, meant to help prevent polluted runoff from reaching Arcadia Lake, is scheduled to begin this spring after the Select Board approved the contractor and consultant for the project.

At a Jan. 29 Select Board meeting, Steve Williams, director of the Belchertown Department of Public Works, suggested the Select Board award $40,000 of a $73,775 state grant to A. Martins & Sons, a Ludlow contractor, to install the projects.

The proposed project will use “bioswales,” depressions in the earth lined with rocks and vegetation, to capture stormwater. It will also replace two conventional catch basins with “deep sump catch basins” to better filter unwanted pollutants from runoff water and keep them from entering Arcadia Lake.

A water quality study of the Arcadia Lake done in 2014 found the water body to be relatively clean, according to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection provides funding for the maintenance and improvement of municipal drinking, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure through the Municipal Water Infrastructure Investment Fund. In 2016, the state awarded $73,775 to Belchertown and the town drafted and discussed plans for the proposed project.

The Select Board also voted for an additional $34,915 to go to Amec Foster Wheeler, an industrial engineering and consulting firm, to conduct an assessment of the town’s ability to comply with EPA standards. The company would look at local demographics, environmental needs and different means of funding future water management projects including taxation, fees, or potentially forming a stormwater utility, similar to a municipal water district.

“Currently, stormwater maintenance is funded through general taxation,” said Williams in an email. “We expect full compliance with the program will cost approximately $500,000 annually.”

Williams said the town spent a large amount of money years ago installing sewer collection systems around the Tri-Lake area. The latest costly upgrades prompted the Select Board and the DPW to consider forming a stormwater utility to manage and maintain the future water management projects. Richard Niles, the project manager for the Chelmsford-based Amec Massachusetts, said the company will help assess the town’s need for future projects.

On Feb. 12, the Select Board voted unanimously to award both companies the grant money, but contracts have yet to be signed. The newest project along Federal Street is scheduled to begin this spring with a completion date of June 30, right as Arcadia Lake Town Beach opens for the season.