2007-04-05 / Front Page

Options studied for failing Ft. Getty leach fields

By Dotti Farrington

Town Councilors were advised last week about some sewage disposal options at Fort Getty for seasonal visitors in recreational camping vehicles because existing leaching fields have failed or are otherwise inadequate. They asked the town administrator to gather more data before they decide what to do about the problem.

Councilors were advised that septic work is not part of the long- range master plan for improvements at Fort Getty Park. Councilors indicated that any septic solution probably could not be installed before the next camping season starts in May, and that work would have to be planned for the fall when camping ends in October. They did not specify if any changes or special rules would be put into effect for the coming season.

Meanwhile, the Fort Getty Master Plan Committee is set to meet today at 2 p.m. in the museum room at the town library. The agenda includes discussion of waste disposal at the park, and unspecified new business.

Options discussed by council members included connecting the park to the town sewer system at an estimated cost of $200,000, but some officials said the chemical used for waste in the camp vehicles was such that it could not be processed by the town sewer treatment plant. Another possibility would be replacing the leaching fields, which would extend the life of the system by an unspecified but limited number of years.

Town Engineer Michael Gray was reported to be studying a large, probably 10,000 gallon holding tank with the contents to be trucked out because the highly chemically treated waste was described as injurious to the leach fields, as well as being inappropriate to be piped to the treatment plant.

Councilors asked town officials to survey other recreational vehicle parks to learn how they handle disposal of waste, as well as having Gray and others compile information for presentation to the council in the near future.

Council Vice President Julio Di- Giando said it would be important to know specific costs and how they would be distributed to campers, via fees or permits.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said that waste disposal is an essential service of the town superstructure. He said the town has a $270,000 balance from park income that might be used if necessary. DiGiando said the town "must recover costs from fees once the work is done."

Resident Patrick Bolger asked for clarification about data from Gray on the extent of use of the upper leaching field at Fort Getty. He said he understood that half of the campers pay a private service to collect their waste and truck it off island for disposal. He suggested that all campers could be required to use such a service.

Town Planner Lisa Bryer commented that the problems reflected not quantity of waste, but the chemical content. Keiser said he would need to get more data about the disposal of waste from the Fort Getty pump out, used by campers who do not pay for the private truck out service.

Council President David Long said it was clear "that we need a lot more information," before the council discusses the problem further. He specified he wanted the town engineer to be available for the discussion whenever it is scheduled. Councilor Michael Schnack agreed, saying the decision has to be coordinated with the town sewer treatment operation and that the town does not want to violate laws or environmental quality at the campground.

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