Is smart sewering in Wrentham’s future? It might be if a study approved at Tuesday’s meeting of the board of Selectmen turn up favorable results.
The idea of smart sewering, according to Rob Zimmerman who is the executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association , is not fit for a single house or for an entire town, but rather for an area that can be used for economic development and has the space to treat waste on site.
“Smart Sewering is the identification of density districts. The creation of an area where you actually want to see growth,” Zimmerman said. “Philosophically, the desire is to concentrate development in particular areas and relieve the pressure.”
The example given by Zimmerman was Littleton, who created an industrial district and a public village common area for smart sewering. The public village was a collection of stores and restaurants that collectively used the smart sewage system. While it is better used in an area that can be developed, the project is not without its risks if not enough waste can be produced for it to be economically viable.
“It is pretty risky, if you look at water treatment plants across the state over the last 10 years, many are in financial difficulty,” Zimmerman said.
Environmentally, it appears to be more efficient. Instead of sending wastewater and sending it away to be treated, the water would be cleaned on site and returned to the source. Any waste from the used water would be turned into methane gas.
With the proposal aiming at looking at the possibility of installing smart sewering in downtown and by the Village Outlets on Route 1A, the board was more comfortable with a project on 1A rather that near the center of town if only because of the space available to develop on Route 1A.
David DeLuca, who is a real estate developer said has talked with town planner Paige Duncan on the issue, preferred Route 1A as the place for the project.
“The center of town involves rethinking what is going to happen there. We have a much easier go where there is a demand for development and the capacity is being constrained by the lack of sewer,” DeLuca said. “We have the land to put the plant, we have the land to discharge into, we have the wetlands in place. The pieces are all there.”
When asked for how big the project would be or how much water would be needed for it to make financial sense, Zimmerman said that he needed to conduct a study to answer those questions.
Interesting in seeing if the project could work, chairman Joseph Botaish suggested that Zimmerman work with the Wrentham Economic Development Commission (EDC) to make sure what his vision for smart sewerage is something that would be considered appropriate for the town.
With only $30,000 left in the grant from the Barr Foundation for the project and other towns interested in the idea, the study was approved with no obligation from the town to act on it. Zimmerman is now expected to carry out the study and meet with the economic development commission in the near future.