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State officials might approve Bayfield sewage plan
4/13/2007 By: Carole McWilliams
The compliance plan for Bayfield’s sewage treatment plant now includes a commitment to lift the Feb. 21 moratorium on selling new sewer taps – if state health officials accept the plan.
The sewer district board approved that clarification Wednesday night, along with an addition to the plan submitted to the state last week, with more deadlines for improvements to be done.
Town and district manager Justin Clifton said the officials wanted the additional deadlines. They want ironclad assurances, not just good-faith assurances, that the plant will stay in compliance with operating permit limits, as part of lifting the tap moratorium, he said.
He indicated that the deal will be authorization to sell up to 10 taps once one improvement is complete, such as enhanced settling in the third lagoon, and another 10 taps after the next improvement is done.
If any deadline is missed, the moratorium will have to be re-imposed that day, he said.
“I added about 33 percent to every timeline” to provide a cushion on getting improvements done, Clifton said.
Talk last month was of having the second and third lagoons de-sludged by the end of this month, but that has to be done by a certified operator, and there’s only one. They are starting at the Forest Lakes sewage plant next week. Another customer on their schedule is letting Bayfield have the slot after Forest Lakes, he said.
The compliance plan includes interim improvements at the sewage lagoons and eliminating high organic loading coming into the plant.
The additional deadlines also include getting high load commercial customers into compliance, but earlier deadlines already set by the district for those customers still apply.
Clifton said he proposed five months, until Sept. 3, to get everything done – “about the time it takes to build a house.”
He hopes to know on Monday whether the state will accept the plan with additional deadlines. He’ll submit it to the town board on Tuesday. The projection is that five high-load commercial customers will eliminate about 50 pounds a day of organic loading going into the system, but that’s not much when the loading is 1,200 pounds per day as it was earlier this year. The operating permit limit is 600 pounds.
But the 50-pound reduction balances against a 20-pound increase caused by a year’s worth of residential growth, Clifton said. Aside from the five high-load customers, “We are continuing to pursue any and all places with high numbers.”
Sewer board member Brad Elder said there needs to be a clearer standard on when a customer is within allowable limits for organic loading, and how that is determined. The board also needs to decide what to do with high-load customers who don’t meet the compliance deadline.
“They need to know that the ones who don’t cooperate don’t get a free ride,” Elder said. “If you haven’t done anything by June 30, we start coming after you and drop the hammer.”
Clifton said it needs to be a cooperative effort with the high-load customers, not “an us and them relationship. … One of the businesses was trying to be aggressive on this and was told the engineer couldn’t work on it for three months.”
The enforcement has to start before the Sep. 3 deadline offered to the state, district attorney Bud Smith said.