2017-11-16 / News

Golf course greens being damaged by chemicals used for wastewater

Nota: Changing disinfection process is not cost-effective
BY TIM RIEL

While the town continues to ponder a new clubhouse at the golf course, the operators are focused on fixing a problem impacting play.

According to Town Administrator Andy Nota, the sodium hypochlorite used to treat the effluent at the wastewater plant is damaging the greens.

The Jamestown Golf Course, he said, provides the effluent water for irrigation, and the sodium concentrate is starting to collect. While the fairways and rough aren’t affected, the way the greens were constructed presents a problem, Nota said, since “most of them don’t have any type of drainage system to flush the chemicals.”

Nota updated the town councilors on the situation at their Nov. 6 meeting, which followed a “troubleshooting session” with regulators at the state Department of Environmental Management. Nota was joined by town engineer Mike Gray and wastewater superintendent Doug Oullette.

Unfortunately, Nota said, that meeting concluded without a clear path toward a solution. There are few options because the overriding priority of wastewater treatment is protecting the environment and public health. Cheaper chemicals, he said, would not be prudent because they are more toxic, which require infrastructure investments and additional personnel.

“There seems to be very little cost-effectively we can do on our end,” he said.

According to Nota, this isn’t a new problem. “This didn’t just happen,” he said. “It has nothing to do with any changes at the plant. We’ve been using this treatment process for the past 20 years.”

Although he considered this a challenge for the operators and not the town, Nota did offer some solutions. First, the town has requested permission to bypass the second dose of sodium hypochlorite injected into the effluent that is discharged to the course. Even if the state allows the town to modify its permit, Nota is doubtful about the impact.

“We’re hopeful, but the second dose is such a small amount that we aren’t expecting a significant change,” he said.

The other options have no bearing on the disinfection process at the plant. Among them are improving the drainage systems and seasonally utilizing effluent while using fresh water during the peak months. Also, the course could open a secondary water source for the greens. Nota said the pond on the north side of the second hole could be tapped.

While Nota said the town will be able to assist with the proposed changes, it ultimately is an issue for the Mistowski family, the course’s lessee. He also was skeptical about passing additional costs to the town’s wastewater customers. Last season, the town provided 8 million gallons of effluent water to the course.

“If an operator had to purchase that water, it wouldn’t be viable to manage as a golf course,” he said.

Although the Mistowskis’ lease was set to expire, the agreement was extended through 2018 because of exigent circumstances surrounding construction of a new clubhouse. Nota said any upcoming request for proposals will note the effluent water source.

“The operators will need to make some difficult decisions in evaluating the type of quality of course they can sustain, a viable and sustainable fee structure, and how they may be able to diversify their annual revenue stream,” Nota said.

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