Town of Mashpee
Environmental Oversight Committee
Minutes of Meeting
May 14, 2009
Present: Ed Baker, Ralph Marcelli, Jim Leonard, Ted Theis
Also Present: Town Manager-Joyce Mason
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order with a quorum at 7:05 p.m. by Joyce Mason, Town Manager.
APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES:
Motion made by Mr. Leonard to approve the minutes of April 16, 2009. Motion seconded by Mr. Theis. All voted unanimously.
No public comment at this time.
No new business at this time.
Power Alternatives-Solar Energy
Ms. Mason confirmed that the in-house Committee will be working on drafting an alternative energy plan in accordance with the Green Energy Communities Act and have the draft ready for the Environmental Oversight Committee’s next meeting. Mr. Baker inquired about data collection, which was a question raised during the conversation about solar panels being installed at the Mashpee Senior Center. He further noted that currently hot water is heated by gas, and with the coming season would be a good opportunity to gather information about gas consumption for heating the water. Ms. Mason responded that the gas and electricity usage for each building is being collected by Tom Mayo. The information gathered will be used in a study to determine the best system for each facility. Regarding the photo
voltaics for the Senior Center and hot water solar, Ms. Mason stated that initial numbers were not accurate and will result in acquiring a smaller photo voltaic system which, over a longer period of time, will provide a higher return. Next week a decision will be made to determine the type of RFP to be released. Mr. Leonard questioned the possibility of linking the system with the fire and police departments to which Ms. Mason responded that a grant was received to allow for a study that will determine the feasibility of a wind turbine for the complex and also tie in to the KC Coombs School. South Cape Beach is another location that is being considered for a wind turbine. The study kicked off 3 weeks ago and Ms. Mason recommended that input from Committee members are welcome and can be emailed directly to her. Mr. Theis added that an individual at Peck Boats informed him that an organization exists that provides equipment and sells the electricity back
at a lower cost, and likely earns money through tax benefits and selling electricity back to the power company.
Stormwater Management Plan
Ms. Mason received an update from Catherine Laurent stating that the original NPDES Phase 2 permit, issued for a 5 year period or until March 2008. New permit regulations have not been approved. The town is still working under the original permit and Ms. Laurent will submit the 6 year annual report soon.
Regarding the swales on Quinaquissett Ave., Ms. Laurent stated that construction would begin during the week after Memorial Day. Having met with Conservation Agent McManus, the design for 2 of the swales has been altered and a third one has been eliminated because the original plan would have required the removal of significant numbers of trees and vegetation. Ms. Laurent would be happy to attend a future meeting, to which Committee members expressed interest.
Mr. Baker stated that he wishes to discuss Best Management Practices with Ms. Laurent at the next meeting. Specifically, Mr. Baker would like to discuss road specifications and stormwater BMPs on new and reconstructed roads. Mr. Baker expressed concern about nutrient runoff and the necessity of roots to eat up the nutrients before reaching the groundwater. Mr. Baker added that the base has been successful with Ashumet Pond by adding iron, which prevents phosphorus from entering the water. Mr. Baker added that there are other practices and he would like other local ponds to be evaluated.
Mashpee Blue Book
The town has applied for a grant in the amount of $31,733. Anyone interested in reviewing the budget that was included with the application may contact Ms. Mason. Regarding an editor for the book, it has been suggested that a public ad be placed in the paper to generate volunteers. Mr. Theis indicated that Mr. Marcelli expressed interest in encouraging the high school students to assist with the production of the book. Mr. Leonard added that Beverly Kane expressed interest in spearheading the Blue Book project. Chairman Myers planned to contact Orleans and/or Martha’s Vineyard to see if an editable version of the document existed and the possibility of placing the document online as a work in progress, encouraging feedback and editing from the community, has been discussed. The initial
chapters would first be converted to Mashpee information. Evelyn Bushenfeld suggested contacting Cape Cod Regional Tech because of their capabilities in printing. Ms. Mason indicated that she would be happy to reach out to the school and request a proposal for how they would proceed with the project. Ms. Mason added that she would ask Assistant Town Manager Rene Read to follow up on acquiring an editable version of the Blue Book.
Land Steward Program Update
Ms. Mason announced that a meeting has been scheduled for June with an agenda. Ms. Mason will request a written update from Agent McManus and will forward it to the Committee. Ms. Mason agrees that the program is important for the community and wishes to create a program that other communities would want to emulate. Mr. Leonard stated that he resigned from the program in the fall and expressed concern about its deterioration. Additionally, he feels that the time between March and June is too long for meetings. Mr. Leonard expressed concern about follow through and noted that trash reported one year ago had not yet been removed from the property. Mr. Baker also expressed concern about losing volunteers and has encouraged the Conservation Agent to actively maintain open communication with
the volunteers, such as through the use of quarterly emailed newsletters. Mr. Theis added that the program would be a great project for a Scout Eagle by setting up the administrative paperwork to report issues and understands how the task can become overwhelming with other responsibilities at hand. Mr. Marcelli suggested that two way communications by email should assist in alleviating the challenges of the program once it becomes a routine.
Mashpee River Update
Ms. Mason indicated that navigation needs to be improved and suggested that it might be time to allow the voters to decide what needs to be done. Mr. Theis discussed the benefits of expanding marshes as it relates to filtration. Mr. Baker added those 20 years ago, the original complaints involved the cloudiness of the river and muck building up on the bottom, which could relate to wastewater issues. Additionally, marshland has been dissolving into the river due to winter damage and the river has begun to slow, resulting in bacterial closures. Floating algae mats float to the surface of the marsh during high tide and settle on top of the grass during low tide. The mats smother the grass. Likewise, waterfowl have access to the marsh, feeding on the grasses. Mr. Baker noted that
raising the lip of the marsh peak tides would create a barrier to the algae mats and provide a perpendicular edge to keep the waterfowl off of the marsh. Mr. Baker also discussed work that could be done to improve and build up the marshlands and cited an example at Harwich Herring River where coconut husk biodegradable coir logs were utilized to improve the conditions of the river. Mr. Baker wishes to deal with the basic problems such as the shallowness and cloudiness of the river and the deterioration of the marsh and believes that many problems could be resolved by restoring the marsh along with additional improvements. De-nitrification occurs when the water travels through the root zone of the marsh plants. Mr. Baker also stated that the original Popponessett Bay study noted two water sources that enter the bay, Mashpee River and Santuit River, both of which have marsh structures. The results of the study concluded that the Mashpee River shows zero
attenuation of the nutrients coming into the estuary whereas 30% attenuation occurred with the Santuit River which features a marsh in good condition. Mr. Baker proposes that the new Waterways Commission consider the project as a marsh restoration program rather than a dredging project. Ms. Mason confirmed that Chairman Myers wishes to develop a new approach to the issue and suggested coordinating a meeting with the Waterways Commission.
Santuit Pond RFP
Ms. Mason will be meeting next Thursday at 1pm to finalize the contract terms with ENSR. Ms. Mason indicated that a kick off meeting should be scheduled to discuss the parameters of the study and ensure that everything is in order before the work begins. Mr. Baker added that it was originally discussed that a public meeting would be scheduled at a time when seasonal residents would have returned to town. Ms. Mason stated that Michael Ball and Mr. Kennedy, a water sampling specialist, would be working on the project and meeting with her next week. Ms. Mason confirmed that she is working with the revised budget of $58,825, which was appropriated at Town Meeting, and asked if the Committee felt that the budget amount and tasks requested were appropriate. It was stated that the original amount
was $51,500, but then the wet weather sampling and cranberry bog sampling were added. Tom Cambareri has sent an email seeking volunteers to assist with the Santuit Pond cranberry bogs. A discussion ensued regarding the ability to sample cranberry bog discharge. Mr. Matson from the DEP has been involved with an effort to sample cranberry bog discharge throughout Cape Cod. John Kabat and George Schmidt, from Friends of Santuit Pond, will be monitoring the bogs on a daily basis. Ms. Mason provided Mr. Schmidt with Mr. Matson’s contact information so that he can be contacted as soon as evidence of discharge occurs. The process by which bogs are flooded and the reasons for flooding were discussed in an effort to inform Mr. Schmidt about what to look for when the bogs are preparing to discharge. A propane driven engine pump assists in flooding the bogs and once flooded, the bogs are typically drained within 24 hours. Mr. Schmidt was advised
to contact Mr. Matson as soon as he suspects that something is happening to allow enough time for a sampling team to assemble and travel to Mashpee. Returning to the details and budget for the Santuit Pond RFP, it was agreed that the Committee wants the wet weather sampling but the addition of the cranberry bog sampling is contingent upon the ability to be notified when the bogs are being drained. Ms. Mason will request additional details about the cranberry bog sampling and email the information to the Committee.
Action Items for Ms. Mason
Ms. Mason indicated that she will contact the Orleans group to request the electronic format of the Blue Book and confirm that it can be placed on the town’s website for feedback, as well as to contact Cape Tech for a proposal regarding their assistance in producing the book. Additionally, Ms. Mason will schedule Ms. Laurent for a future meeting, request a written report about the Land Steward Program from Conservation Agent McManus and coordinate a meeting with the new members of the Waterways Commission to discuss the Mashpee River.
Environmental Education-No change
Mashpee River Restoration-Meet with Waterways Commission
Combine Water-Sewer-Ms. Mason stated that the study committee has been formed and plans will be made to schedule the first meeting. Ms. Mason feels that the best solution would be to have it combined under the Water District and further stated that a petition article may be the first step at the Water District Annual meeting. Mr. Baker added that the Military Reservation combined water and sewer so that the employees were interchangeable. Mr. Baker further discussed the need to begin meeting with all towns sharing the same watershed and determine a percentage reduction number that would be required for each town. The Committee believes that this is the best way to deal with the issue and the details should be worked out now. Costs and ways in which the funds could be raised to pay for
the improvements, similar to Community Preservation Act funds, were discussed extending it over a 50-100 year period of time, and allowing everyone to contribute.
Natural Fertilizers-No change
Grant Applications-It was discussed that should a grant be received for the Santuit Pond Study, the Town Meeting Article funds could be re-appropriated to another project.
Town-Wide Stormwater Management Plan-A meeting will be scheduled with Ms. Laurent.
Santuit Pond-Discussed previously
Land Steward Program-Discussed previously
Technology Applications-No change
Recycling-Ms. Mason stated that the Board of Selectmen will be discussing their course of action at the next meeting. Voters have indicated that they wish to maintain the status quo. The Board of Selectmen may consider making recycling mandatory in Mashpee. Commission members discussed other communities who require mandatory recycling, but often in conjunction with curb side pick up. The MEC website highlights local recycling rates as: Falmouth 40%, Harwich 50%, Mashpee 20%. Many members sited the positive impact children have on their parents, encouraging them to recycle. Mr. Baker indicated that a $100 donation was given to the “Cool the Earth Club,” run by Jane Emery at Quashnet School, to continue to motivate the kids. More information about the club can be found
Ashumet Pond Phosphorous-No change
Mashpee’s Ponds Water Quality-No change
Motion made by Mr. Baker to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 p.m. Motion seconded by Mr. Marcelli. All voted unanimously.
Jennifer M. Clifford