FHMIA Board To Vote YES on Town Ballot Question #1

The FHMIA By-Laws state one of our purposes to be “to actively participate in neighborhood and related townwide matters which concern the well-being of the membership”.  Accordingly, members of the FHMIA Board of Directors watched the Town Meeting discussions of Articles 24 & 25 which have been combined to form Question #1 on the upcoming ballot (sewering of Little Pond area and more) and also attended a recent meeting of the Question #1 Committee. The Board voted at its recent quarterly meeting to support a Yes vote on this ballot question and have asked the Committee to quote us as Board support and not full membership support as our Annual Meeting takes place after the Town vote.

You can find the Town Meeting articles and votes for Articles 24 and 25 at http://www.falmouthmass.us/deppage.php?number=282.

If you vote in Falmouth, we encourage you vote on May 21.

If you want to support this issue, the Committee says “you can support our efforts to get out the vote for Question 1 by:

a) talking to friends and neighbors about voting on May 21;

b) posting one of our signs in an appropriate place; and/or

c) by contributing to the “Committee for Question One.”

We already have the signs, but need money to send postcards to frequent voters in Falmouth and place ads in the Enterprise.

Contributions can be sent to Paul Ketchum, 31 Moorland Road, Falmouth, MA 02540. Make checks payable to “Committee for Question One.”

Letters to the Editor of the Enterprise should be emailed to the Editor, Bill Hough, at bhough@capenews.net

If you would like to put a YES sign on your lawn, please email Barry Balan at balanpac@comcast.net

                          FACT SHEET ON QUESTION 1

Reduce Nitrogen Pollution in Our Estuaries (from Article 24)

WHAT DOES QUESTION 1 DO?  This question allows the town to borrow $5.6 million for design and permitting projects to reduce nitrogen pollution: an inlet widening project at Bourne’s Pond, a wastewater collection project in the Maravista and Falmouth Heights areas adjacent to Little Pond, and needed upgrades at the town Wastewater Treatment Plant.

HOW WILL IT BE PAID FOR?  The town’s financial manager and the Finance Committee have confirmed that this can be done with NO INCREASE in the property tax rate, by substituting new debt for expiring old debt – the so-called “window of opportunity” the town has used in the past to fund major capital projects.

WHO MAKES THE DECISION?  Voters must approve Question 1 in the May 21 town election.

WHAT ABOUT ALTERNATIVES?  Thanks to a unanimous Town Meeting vote in 2011, Falmouth is leading the way on Cape Cod in testing alternative ways to reduce the nitrogen coming from septic systems that is the main cause of the degradation of our estuaries. We hope that some of these will prove to be cost effective, community acceptable ways of addressing the problem in some of our estuaries instead of sewering.

WHY SEWERING IN LITTLE POND?  Little Pond is the most degraded of all the town’s estuaries. Its watershed is the most densely developed part of town, with hundreds of very small lots, many still with cesspools, where failed systems cannot meet Title V standards. It was included as “Phase 2” of the town’s sewer plan thirty years ago, so the existing pipes, pump stations, and treatment plant all were built with the capacity to take wastewater flow from this area. Environmentally and financially, connecting this area to the town’s sewer system makes sense.

WON’T ALTERNATIVES ALONE WORK IN LITTLE POND?  No. The level of nitrogen pollution is so high in Little Pond that both sewering and alternatives will be needed to address the problem. Oyster cultivation and inlet widening might well be able to contribute to nitrogen reduction there; demonstration projects are now underway to test these possibilities.

WHAT ABOUT BOURNE’S POND?  In this estuary, opening the inlet from 50 to 90 feet wide promises to remove as much nitrogen as sewering 350 homes, at a much lower cost. This is a demonstration project with a high likelihood of success that would be funded by Question 1.

WHO SUPPORTS QUESTION 1?  The Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee, the Board of Health, the Water Quality Management Committee and FACES all support Question 1.

Filter Our Drinking Water (from Article 25)

PURPOSE OF QUESTION 1:  Allows Falmouth to borrow $3.4 million for design of the water treatment plant recommended for Long Pond, which is the source of 60% of our town water.

FUNDING:  The cost of design will be paid by the “debt exclusion” mechanism, substituting this new debt for expiring old debt. This article will not increase taxes.

DECISION PROCESS:  Board of Selectmen unanimously supports Question 1. It must be approved by voters in the May 21 town election.

WATER IN FALMOUTH—WHY ACTION IS REQUIRED NOW:  Falmouth does not filter its drinking water. New regulations in 1989 required Long Pond water to be filtered, but Falmouth has been operating on waivers for 18 years and has gotten around the regulation by adding more chlorine disinfectant, which it has been doing since 1994.  Current lack of filtration and reliance on large amounts of chlorine results in low-quality water and the creation of potentially harmful by-products caused by the reaction of so much chlorine with naturally occurring organic compounds in the water.  Additional regulations now require the use of two disinfectants to assure control of pathogens in surface water that is not filtered.  Falmouth currently uses only chlorine disinfectant.  The compliance date for this regulation was October 2012, but Falmouth obtained an extension until June 2013 to complete studies for “the right” water treatment system.  In addition to regulatory requirements, our recent “boil water” experience in June 2010 was a wake-up call that we needed to change our treatment strategy.

RECOMMENDED WATER TREATMENT:  The recommended water filtration system is coagulation to remove particulates, ozonation for disinfection, filtration through sand and activated charcoal and a final chlorination step to guard against pathogens in the distribution system.

WATER IN THE FUTURE:  We anticipate that regulations will eventually require filtration of surface water as well as treatment for contaminants of emerging concern, including personal care products and pharmaceuticals. The ozone and activated carbon treatments are critical to meeting anticipated regulations. This treatment will immediately deliver improved safety, taste, odor, and color for water from Long Pond. An added benefit of the recommended treatment process will be cutting chlorine use by up to 50% and removing carcinogens.

PROJECT TIMELINE:  Following approval of Question 1, engineering design will be completed early in 2014. At that time, additional funds will be requested for construction and start-up of the Long Pond water treatment operation.  Construction would be completed in 2015.