HARWICH -- Special legislation that would enable Harwich, Dennis and Yarmouth to move forward with their tri-town wastewater treatment partnership is in the hands of the governor after local lawmakers moved the bill through the House and Senate late last week.
The bill is filed as House Docket, No. 1378.
“We are pleased to announce that special legislation to create the DHY Clean Waters Community Partnership has passed both chambers in the Legislature and is on its way to Governor Baker for his signature,” a joint statement from state Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro), state Rep. Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown), state Rep Tim Whelan (R-Brewster) and state Rep. Will Crocker (R-Barnstable) says.
“The towns of Dennis, Harwich and Yarmouth have worked hard to come up with an important inter-municipal partnership that will reduce excess nitrogen that is polluting the Cape’s marine environment and provide cleaner water for their residents and visitors for decades to come,” it adds.
Under the partnership, each of the three towns has developed a Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan to evaluate options for removing excessive nitrogen from salt water estuaries and rivers.
The towns have determined that sewering, along with other non-traditional technologies, is needed in order to solve the excessive nitrogen problem, which stems mainly from septic systems.
The regional partnership will be responsible for the wastewater treatment facility, effluent recharge sites, and shared piping and pumping stations to and from those facilities. Each town is individually responsible for its own collection system.
Harwich already has an agreement in place with Chatham, whereby Harwich is installing a sewer infrastructure in East Harwich that will connect to its neighbor town’s treatment plant, which is not yet constructed.
That infrastructure stretches up Route 137 through the intersection with Route 39 up to Sherwood Road, east to Huckleberry Lane and west to Old Heritage Way along Route 39.
The $22 million system is now being constructed in phases; Harwich’s agreement with Dennis and Yarmouth would cover the rest of town.
The DHY Agreement will be presented at spring 2020 town meetings. If approved in all three communities, the towns would sign the agreement next summer, and would appoint seven DHY commissioners – three from Yarmouth and two each from Dennis and Harwich.
The wastewater treatment facility would be located in Dennis, with construction starting in 2022, according to a timeline provided by the partnership.
A cost structure plan is explained in a Frequently Asked Questions page on the partnership web site, dhycleanwaters.org.
A question asking whether the project will affect property taxes is answered this way:
“User fee apportioning determinations are expected to vary based on town-specific preferences and needs. There are many factors that are considered when determining funding sources, some of which can affect taxes, while others do not. Officials from Dennis, Harwich, and Yarmouth have each developed cost recovery programs for implementation of their town’s comprehensive wastewater management plan.”
In recent years, as the partnership was in the planning stages, the towns have utilized grants to assess the feasibility of utilizing joint wastewater treatment and effluent recharge facilities between the towns. The costs associated with the shared facilities would mainly be distributed based on each town’s wastewater flow capacity.
All three towns voted to file special legislation to form the DHY Partnership during spring 2018 town meetings.\