No Action Option
On September 17th the Planning Commission discussed the do nothing or no action option. This approach was included as a control by which to help evaluate the impact of other alternatives.During the course of the Commission’s public outreach, there were calls to conduct additional study on the scope of the problem and delay action. The Commission agreed that these requests would be included in report to the Selectboard however the task of the Commission was in juxtaposition to the do nothing approach. The Commission met and discussed this option and accepted public comment that will be reflected in its report.
The charge of the Commission to provide the Colchester Selectboard with an alternatives analysis to effectively address human wastewater pollution in the Inner Bay implies that the existence of human wastewater pollution in the Bay is not in question. Colchester has already exceeded the efforts of the communities visited on the septic tour with regard to study and examination. Comprehensive monitoring to look for a broader spectrum of possible pollutants is of minimal value. Existing water quality sampling results provide the following:
• The locations where human wastewater bacteria were detected were along the shoreline areas of inner Malletts Bay. Follow up testing confirmed that human waste bacteria were not coming from upland streams draining into the Bay (see Integrated Water Resources Management Plan or IWRMP).
• Both table top and field investigations from the IWRMP has shown that the properties contained within the project area have significant area and environmental constraints that present as a high risk area collectively.
• More than 17 failures have been documented in this area over the past ten years,with three occurring this summer (two on West Lakeshore and two on East Lakeshore Drive). This is two to three times the failure rate of any other area in the community (per ELMS system).
• The Lake Champlain Tactical Basin Plan lists the Malletts Bay Sewer Project as a high priority and notes pathogens in the Inner Bay.
• The 2015 VTDEC determination of eligibility for a dry weather pollution abatement grant for the sewer project provided findings from the State of Vermont that were based upon the Town’s water quality monitoring records,microbial source tracking from 2002 and 2010 and the IWRMP. These findings,in the packet, resulted in the funding of the project due to the confirmation pollution. Of note in these findings are several items including the following:“The Division has examined E.coli sampling records from lakes and ponds throughout Vermont. While exceedances of the criteria are relatively common in streams and rivers, they are much rarer in lakes, owing to the dilution and exposure of the bacteria to ultraviolet light that is incident to the lake surface.The exposure to ultraviolet light is relevant as this accelerates the senescence of the bacteria, rapidly under most circumstances. The record of repeating and regular E.coli bacteria exceedances during dry weather is uncommon in Vermont."