Paul Niedzwiecki, executive director of Cape Cod Commission, sent the following letter to Jon Fuller, chairman of the Orleans Board of Selectmen.  It refers to Article 1 on the warrant for the Oct. 16 special town meeting.  The article asks for $3.6 million to install the downtown sewer collection system.


As we move forward with implementation of the Cape Cod Area Wide Water Quality Management Plan update (208 Plan Update), I am pleased to write to you in support of an upcoming town meeting warrant article that will ultimately improve water quality in the Town of Orleans.

Specifically, I can now state that the proposal to install the main spine of a collection system in downtown Orleans is consistent with the 208 Plan Update. In addition, the project will take advantage of efficiencies resulting from collection system work being conducted in conjunction with a MassDOT intersection and roadway improvement project at Routed 28 and Route 6A in downtown Orleans.

There are many good reasons to vote in favor of this article. The first and foremost is to avoid the mandatory five (5) year delay that would result from a failure to coordinate with MassDOT on this construction project. As you know, MassDOT prohibits road opening and in-road construction for five years after it performs roadway construction and improvement projects.

Failure to take advantage of MassDOT's road opening window will cost the town additional time and money in the future, would contradict the carefully and thoughtfully developed Consensus Plan approved by the Orleans Water Quality Advisory Panel, and could evidence a lack of willingness by the town to timely commit to water quality improvement.

The Downtown Orleans area is a textbook example of the type of area where a traditional system is an appropriate approach to nitrogen reduction. The downtown is the town's commercial hub. It is densely developed, with more density expected due to the recent passage of a zoning amendment to allow  additional residential development in the area.

Downtown commercial and residential property owners will benefit from a sewer system in that they will be released from: (1) development constraints that result from the need to site on-site septic systems and leaching fields; (2) size and service constraints based on wastewater disposal imitations; and (3) the economic and aesthetic constraints associate with the need to pump out on-site systems during the height of the season.

In addition, the proposed main spine collection system construction would not preclude the town from choosing among the various collection system technologies available for future use. Even though all 5 engineering firms hired by the town to examine collection systems options for the downtown have recommended that the town construct a gravity system, some residents question whether an alternative collection system is a better choice. The main spine collection system proposed for construction in the warrant article does not preclude further discussion making on this point.

Finally, a recent investigation of the Orleans landfill plume provides the town with sufficient evidence that addressing the landfill plume itself will not remediate the amount of nitrogen necessary to achieve the TMDL in Town Cove. Downtown sewering will achieve this important water quality goal.