Photo credit: Wright Pierce Rockland WWTP CWMP

In January and again in March of this past year the shellfish beds in the North River were closed for recreational harvest due to overflows of partially treated effluent from the Rockland Wastewater Treatment Plant (read previous article here). On September 6, 2023 the town of Rockland hosted a public zoom meeting to present their Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan as part of an EPA Order to Comply with their Clean Water Act discharge permit. Below are some key takeaways from the meeting.

Key Takeaways from Rockland Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP)

  • Rockland is in violation of its NPDES Clean Water Act permit from flow exceedances. The permitted flow discharge is 2.5 MGD as a monthly average. According to the US EPA 54% is from infiltration and inflow (I/I) of clean ground and rainwater into the sewer collection pipe system.
  • The new permit sets their phosphorus limit much lower (0.1 mg/L seasonally) to reduce nutrients being added to downstream receiving waters.
  • The current proposal prioritizes upgrades to the aging treatment plant and to treat to meet the new phosphorus limits in order to meet the EPA order timeline. The cost is estimated to be $72 million; the estimated cost per Rockland sewer customer is $75/year for the next 5 years. This effort will not increase capacity nor lift the moratorium for new sewer hook ups.
  • The current proposal is also to reduce I/I over 10 years by evaluating and eliminating leaks into the system.
  • The CWMP reviewed areas of the town that are potentially developable but lack the ability to install traditional septic systems. One area was identified that was estimated to be about 35,000 gallons per day of need and several alternative solutions were provided. 
  • Flow shedding alternatives were evaluated and two potential sites were identified: Esten School and Union Point. Flow shedding would take some of the existing sewer flow and discharge into the ground. 
  • Public comments on the plan are due by September 22, 2023 to Kevin Olson at The NSRWA intends to submit comments.
  • All relevant documents and materials can be found online at Rockland Sewer Commission’s website.  Including the 9.6.23 CWMP presentation slides and a Draft of the Phase 3 of the CWMP

The NSRWA will continue to update you on Rockland’s progress on this important issue to the health of our upper watershed. Stay tuned!