The utility commissioners from Springfield, who own the West Parish Treatment Plant at 1515 Granville Road in Westfield, asked the Westfield Conservation Commission on Sept. 14 for a ruling on which governmental body has jurisdiction to allow the basin to be removed.
Jennifer Doyle-Breen of AECOM, a consultant for the utility, said the water in the sedimentation basin is treated at the West Parish Treatment Plant after coming from the Cobble Mountain Reservoir in Blandford via a pipeline and 72-inch tunnel. Before it arrives at the treatment plant, it passes through the sedimentation basin, which was built in 1910 and holds 121 acre-feet of water at an average depth of 15 feet.
When originally constructed, the utility commission believed the basin and its underwater baffles would remove organic impurities from the water, according to Doyle-Breen. She said recent evaluations have concluded that the basin does not provide any benefits, however.
“At the moment, AECOM is helping Springfield Water & Sewer with facilities planning. As part of those discussions, there has been some discussion on the regulatory status of the sedimentary basin,” Doyle-Breen said.
She said a plan for future treatments would bring water from the pipe or tunnel directly into the plant. She said there has been debate on the jurisdictional status of the sedimentation basin, which is why they came to the Conservation Commission.
Commissioner Thomas Sharp questioned the purpose of the request for jurisdictional status. Sharp and Westfield Conservation Coordinator Meredith Borenstein will make a site visit, and the request was continued.
After the meeting, Borenstein said the core issue is whether the basin is regulated under the Wetlands Protection Act and under city ordinances that protect waterways and require Conservation Commission approval to alter them.
“The answer is it is jurisdictional under WPA and under the city ordinance. If you’re going to fill it in, you’re going to need to get a permit for it,” she said.
The Springfield Water & Sewer Commission is a regional ratepayer-supported utility established by the city of Springfield that provides drinking water to Agawam, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Ludlow and Springfield, as well as sewer service for several Springfield-area communities.
At the meeting, the water and sewer utility was given a permit by the commission to construct a new clear well underground storage tank and pumping station within the 200 foot riverfront area of Cooks Brook, and demolishing the old ones.
Melissa Coady of Tighe and Bond presented the request on behalf of Springfield Water & Sewer. She, Borenstein and Commission Chair David A. Doe went on a site visit and walked the property, paying particular interest to Cooks Brook, Coady said.
The Westfield Engineering Department signed off on the project, which Borenstein said is “pretty straightforward and permittable under the regulations.” She said four small areas will be planted as mitigation for the project. The hearing closed, and a bond of $5,000 was issued.
Private homeowners Erin and Lee Masters at 39 Pequot Point Road were permitted to replace a deteriorating retaining wall, made out of old tires, with a precast concrete block retaining wall in the buffer zone to Pequot Pond.
Lee Masters said the old tire wall was starting to collapse toward the water, and they want to stabilize the sandy slope down to the pond, remove old wooden stairs and add loam to the sandy soil above the retaining wall. They also asked permission to remove a hollow tree leaning over a neighbor who is building a new house.
Borenstein said the plan shows two docks, and only one is allowed by the Department of Environmental Protection. Masters said he is working with the DEP to remove one dock and move the other 25 feet from the property line for a permit.
Borenstein also said she wants to see native plantings on the loamed lawn and not all grass. Masters said they want to plant the sloping part of the lawn, but did not yet have a list. The plan was approved with the condition that a planting plan will be provided, and a bond of $2,500 was issued.
Permission was also granted to Jody Pasquini of 177 Debbie Lane to remove nine trees in the buffer zone to Horse Pond. Doe said he had gone on a site visit to the property, and said there are “plenty of trees” on the property.
Pasquini explained that she wants to take the trees down so they don’t fall on her house. She said there are nine in the conservation jurisdiction, some oaks, hemlock and one pine, all fairly large trees. She said she took down a few in front of the house that were hollow on the inside, and another came down that was also hollow.
“I suspect many of the trees in the area are the same,” she said, adding, “The ones leaning over the house terrify me.”
Borenstein said the trees are in the buffer zone only, and if cut and not stumped would prevent any erosion — just loss of habitat. The request was approved by the commission.