The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 29, 1999


Board of health sets parameters for new technology

As more than one builder can attest, the Carlisle Board of Health usually does not approve septic system waivers for any new construction. Case closed...or is it?

More and more engineering firms are suggesting alternative sewage treatment systems based on new technology when conventional solutions don't meet requirements. The board finds it increasingly difficult to reject these advances, especially when the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) endorses some of these approaches. So the board hammered out a policy to deal with emerging technology at its January 19 meeting.

Board member Skip Saunders articulated the board's new position: "If there is a proposed plan for a state-compliant traditional system, the board will entertain a plan for augmented alternative technology that can meet town requirements."

Carlisle's requirements for a septic system exceed those mandated by the state. These regulations are more stringent because the town does not have a public water supply and must protect private wells and water resources. While improved technology may be able to enhance the performance of new septic systems, the latest options do not have years of testing behind them and there is an element of risk in approving their use. The new systems' lifespan may be unclear and the type of future repairs unknown. In the case of these unforeseen difficulties, the board said they could at least require the state-sanctioned traditional alternative.

"We needed a baseline," said town engineering consultant Rob Frado. "The board did not want to open the door to everyone stretching the rules, but rules become obsolete and it's good to review them. It's important to consider how the DEP looks at new technologies and how much variance it allows."

Specifically, the board is considering granting a waiver to reduce the distance to wetlands for new construction on Hillside Drive. First, however, the board wants to examine DEP data on the proposed alternative technology and see a state-compliant septic plan.

The board did grant waivers on a repair for a property at 312 Autumn Lane. This case involved work on a septic system already in place, so the board did consider and approve a shorter distance to wetlands and a well.

Town center contamination

As previously reported, the BOH continues to examine contamination issues at the Carlisle Police Station, Department of Public Works, and the Daisys' gas station.

The town continues to regularly pump and treat the system at the Carlisle Police Station. According to the report from the licesed site professional consulting firm for the project, ENSR,to the DEP, the levels of contamination continue to drop and are nearly at an acceptable level.

People have complained to the board about septic system odors in that area. For this reason, the BOH recommended that a dye test be conducted on the station's septic system which the board can witness.

According to ENSR's report to DEP, contaminated soil has been removed from the department of public works' site and three groundwater monitoring wells will be installed. The well there will also be tested.

The board has requested but has not yet received test results from the Daisys' licensed site professional. Groundwater and soil tests were conducted in December when gas tanks were removed from the former gas station site in the town center.

Saga on Berry Corner Lane

The board's December 15 instruction to cover the open septic system at 125 Berry Corner Lane was stymied by a four-inch blanket of ice. According to owner Michael Kelley, the installer couldn't get a truck in there to do the work.

The board recommended that within the week Kelley spread at least one foot of hay over the system's exposed components as insulation. If components freeze, Kelley could lose the investment he has already made in the system.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito