Town of Orleans SealNext Meeting: The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 14th, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM at Orleans Town Hall.


On December 17, the OWQAP met for six hours to review, evaluate, and refine an initial draft hybrid plan for managing water quality in Orleans. After reviewing the logistical items, including ground rules, action item progress, and outreach updates, the Panel heard from Paul Niedzwiecki, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commission, who explained the CLF – EPA lawsuit settlement and its impacts on water quality planning on Cape Cod. The consultant team then presented the initial hybrid plan, providing a big picture overview, planning-level cost information, detailed sub-watershed scenarios, and other questions and alternative ideas.

Following this presentation, the OWQAP broke into three breakout groups to evaluate and provide input on the initial hybrid plan, including what they liked about the plan, what could be improved, how to account for uncertainties, and what additional questions they had. The main themes from these smaller discussions were then shared with the entire group, which included the tension between risk and cost; and the role of timing and phasing, and use of adaptive management, to respond to uncertainty and different prioritizations. There was a general convergence (not consensus) of interest in a phasing concept that would include determination of a minimum ‘core’ area within Town Cove and Meetinghouse Pond sub-watersheds that would most likely be best served by a collection system, coupled with the selection of the most promising nontraditional pilots sites for demonstration PRB, Aquaculture, Floating Constructed Wetland, and Coastal Habitat Restoration projects. Subsequent phases would draw on the results of pilot projects to maximize the use of effective and lower-cost non-traditional technologies, add collection areas when alternatives seem ineffective, and work to achieve regional synergies with Brewster and Eastham.

The consultant team agreed to work on drafting scenarios consistent with the above initial phasing idea, along with more detailed cost estimates to present for further discussion and refinement at its next meeting on January 14th.


The following action items were captured during the meeting or carried over from previous meetings:
CBI /Water Resources Associates/Stantec
• Alert the OWQAP when new materials are uploaded to the website
• Consider potential of radio segment to publicize the OWQAP process
• Conduct further sensitivity analysis on Orleans’ future population projections
• Provide contact names of STEP/STEG and other technical system managers to OWQAP
• Develop potential scenarios for a phased approach for a “downtown” collection system,
and exploration of different collection system approaches.
• Identify potential pilot sites for non-traditional technologies,
• Develop progress flowchart that details deliverables and milestones deadlines, such as
the Tri-Town decision, zero percent funding availability, and renewing the groundwater
discharge permit
• Continue to update project schedule to reflect the current progress and expected
timeline of the OWQAP process

WQAP Group
• Send CBI your comments/corrections on the December 3rd draft meeting summary
• Share updated OWQAP Progress Summary with constituents
• Provide additional feedback for refining the initial hybrid plan, especially at the subwatershed level


Dave Dunford, Orleans Selectmen and acting meeting chairman, called the meeting to order.  The OWQAP approved the November 12th meeting summary. He reminded the Panel to provide comments on the December 3rd meeting summary to Ms. Stacie Smith, facilitator from the Consensus Building Institute, and welcomed Martin McDonald, selectmen from Eastham, to the Panel.

Please refer to meeting slides for details of the presentations. All meeting documents and
presentations for the Town of Orleans Water Quality Advisory Panel will be located here:

Ms. Smith outlined the ground rules for the meeting, noting that questions during the meeting would be kept to the table for efficiency.

Ms. Smith outlined the ground rules for the meeting, noting that questions during the meeting would be kept to the table for efficiency. Ms. Smith then reviewed the agenda, explaining that the meeting would begin with an overview of the initial hybrid plan, with the group then discussing and providing suggestions about the plan in small breakout groups before reconvening as a full Panel to share the feedback from the breakouts and synthesize ideas.

Ms. Smith briefly reviewed the action items from the December 3rd meeting, noting the successful completion of most of the items. She informed the group that the consultant team posted documents on the OWQAP website on the resources the team has used in its technical evaluation, including stakeholder submitted reference materials, in the ‘Reports and Other Documents – Other Reference Materials’ tab. [Note: not all materials had been posted at that time, but have been since.] In addition, meeting summaries, including that from December 3rd will include executive summaries, which, once approved by the group, can be used for outreach and to update constituents. Ms. Smith stated that meeting summaries would carry over any incomplete action items to the next meeting, so that they are not forgotten.

Ms. Smith noted that she sent the updated OWQAP Progress to Date document to the Panel and asked the group to approve it for use among its constituents. The Panel approved the Progress to Date document, and Ms. Smith requested that the Panel members use it in their newsletters, blogs, and other outreach media to update their constituents. Ms. Smith also informed the group that she would create a summary of the results from the current meeting for distribution to the group and its constituents (see Executive Summary on page 1.)

Mr. Domenica then reviewed the updated project schedule, including work already accomplished and highlighting the current stage, the introduction of the initial draft of the hybrid plan. He emphasized that, while the project still has loose ends and questions that need to be answered, it is important to begin refining the hybrid plan to tailor it to the specific needs of Orleans. The groups will not pass over other important issues, which will continue to feed into the process along with the development of the adaptive management plan. Mr. Domenica highlighted the importance of evaluating risk at every stage of the process and clarified that task deadlines listed on the project schedule do not necessarily align with workshop dates, as some of the listed goals are simply tasks for the consultant team to complete.

Paul Niedzwiecki, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commission, was invited to provide an overview of the CLF – EPA legal settlement, which is nearing finalization. (See Lawsuit Summary under Workshop 8 Materials on the website.) He noted five important points: EPA agreed to approve the 208 Plan by September 15th; within fifteen days of the final settlement (still in progress), EPA will send letters to the Cape towns and other relevant Cape agencies outlining the court’s supervisory role in the implementation of the 208 Plan; within fifteen days of the settlement, EPA will also issues letters to the DEP and the CCC detailing what agencies could be consistent with the Clean Water Act’s designation of Water Management Authorities (WMAs); EPA will work with the state on SRF funding in communities that have developed plans consistent with the 208 plan; and EPA will tell the state to use the latest information on climate
change when determining TMDLs.

Mr. Niedzwiecki explained that the public comment period for the 208 Plan has closed, and the Commission is now revising and responding to comments. The CCC will present the revised plan to Cape stakeholders prior to submission of the final plan to EPA and DEP on March 1st, 2015. The EPA has instructed the CCC to designate WMAs, which could be the Cape’s fifteen towns. The CCC aims to have towns accept responsibility for nitrogen allocation by June 30th, 2015 and would like to include existing opportunities for inter-municipal cooperation. However, the CCC is still waiting for feedback from the EPA and DEP, and it is possible there will be further requirements. In addition, the CCC will host a two-day summit, starting with a meeting on the evening of February 25th for all Selectmen and Councilors on the Cape to provide information and potential coordination regionally, and continuing on the 26th for all 208 Stakeholders and other interested citizens. He emphasized that, while the state has already begun the enforcement process, the goal of the 208 Plan has been to simplify the regulatory process and take advantage of limited resources to fix water quality problems.

Ms. Smith then provided a consensus building primer to the OWQAP to prepare members to effectively negotiate for their interests during the breakout sessions. Ms. Smith recommended that the group use a mutual gains approach (MGA) in its interactions to move from positions to underlying interests, explore new opportunities without the need for immediate commitment, and anticipate and prepare for implementation challenges. She emphasized the group members should be cognizant of the most likely alternatives to reaching a consensus approach in this process, which may be informed by the federal, state, and regional movement outlined by Mr. Niedzwiecki. She encouraged the group to consider new opportunities and ideas to expand the zone of potential agreement and noted that an agreement will involve tradeoffs by the parties.


Mr. Gary McCarthy, Stantec Principal, reviewed the methodology and approach used during the development of the initial hybrid plan. He began by highlighting the benefits of using a hybrid plan, including local customization, balancing risk, adaptive planning, use of a mix of technological solutions, financial value, speed of water quality improvement, and complementary roles of both remediation and prevention. He then highlighted the methodology for the formulation of plan, explaining how Stantec decided where to use traditional and nontraditional technologies and the role of phasing in the plan to evaluate
demonstration project results.

Mr. Louis Soracco, Stantec Senior Principal, provided a big picture overview of the initial hybrid. In the initial hybrid plan, Orleans downtown area would be served by a gravity and pressure collected system with treatment at the Tri-Town site and disposal off-site to multiple locations, including a reclaimed water system. Septage receiving and treatment would be included as part of the design of the new TT facility. East Orleans would use a satellite sewage collection and pumping system with treatment and disposal in the Atlantic watershed. South Orleans would have a similar satellite collection system. These three areas would also draw on nontraditional technologies to reduce the collection footprints. Water quality issues in the middle of the town would be dealt with largely through nontraditional technologies, such as floating constructed wetlands (FCWs), PRBs, aquaculture, and Coastal Habitat Restoration.

Steve Calabro, Project Manager at Stantec, then went over the advantages and disadvantages of traditional sewer systems to ensure the Panel was fully informed on the technology before the breakout session. He listed numerous advantages to traditional sewer systems as well as a few disadvantages. He also explained the rationale for using sewers in Orleans, including the density of the downtown area, approval under Current DRI and MEPA regulations, ability to be built in phases, and the possibility of adapting them to work in conjunction with other towns to achieve regional efficiencies.

Mr. Domenica discussed the cost estimate for the initial hybrid plan, emphasizing that the numbers presented are tentative planning level estimates and still under development. He explained that the capital cost range for this initial hybrid plan would be between $130 to 145 million, which included a thirty percent contingency. While capital costs for the fully nontraditional bookend were lower (estimated at ~$84M), these solutions have higher and less certain O&M and monitoring costs than traditional approaches, and higher uncertainty of effectiveness. The fully traditional bookend was estimated at ~$187M in Capital costs, including a 30% contingency as well. The OWQAP workshop on January 14th will delve further into the cost data and cover the financial details in addition to a modified hybrid plan.

Ms. Sia Karplus, Science Wares, reviewed the cost information for the hybrid’s sub-watershed scenarios, explaining that dollar sign symbols would be associated with monetary ranges. She emphasized that the team is trying to give a realistic cost estimate up front, which is why they are using ranges and also reminded the group to consider risk and uncertainty along with cost while evaluating the plan. Ms. Smith reminded the OWQAP that the cost estimates for the subwatershed scenarios include estimates for O&M and Monitoring and no contingency, unlike the overall project cost estimate, so the sub-watershed costs will not add up to the total projected cost.

Ms. Karplus also showed the Panel the approximate equivalent of nontraditional technologies needed to obtain the same amount of nitrogen removal as sewering 24 homes. She highlighted that FCWs, in particular, have a high range of uncertainty in nitrogen removal estimates depending on several factors and will need to be tested in estuaries to evaluate their efficacy.

Ms. Karplus then reviewed the initial hybrid plan in each individual sub-watershed. She
provided the OWQAP with information on the sub-watersheds’ nitrogen reduction target and suggested technologies for mitigating and remediating nitrogen and phosphorous, covering: Arey’s Pond, Lonnie’s Pond, Meetinghouse Pond, Namequoit River, Pah Wah Pond, Pleasant Bay, Pochet Creek, Quanset Pond, the upper and lower River, Town Cove, Mill Pond, Rock Harbor, Crystal and Pilgrim Ponds, and Boland Pond. Ms. Karplus also highlighted promising watersheds for piloting nontraditional technologies, such as a PRB for Pah Wah and Lonnie’s Ponds and a FCW in Quanset Pond.

Ms. Karplus provided an overview of several large questions and alternative ideas for the subwatershed scenarios. She noted that the initial hybrid plan originally suggested sewering in Rock Harbor watershed with collection and treatment at the TT plant but now includes the possibility of a less expensive PRB given the uncertainty of the Use Attainable Analysis (UAA) designation and potential for local restoration. Mr. Domenica told the group that Namskaket and Little Namskaket will have adaptive management plans as presented in an earlier workshop that will feed back into the final plan.

Ms. Smith then prepared the Panel for the breakout sessions, reminding the members to focus on their interests and use technical, economic, and social evaluation criteria. She informed the Panel that a CBI facilitator would guide each of the three sessions and report out on the groups’ conversations. She asked the working group to focus on four main questions during their sessions:

  • What do you like about this hybrid and why?
  • What changes would make it better and why?
  • What do we do if one or more parts of this fails or cannot be implemented?
  • What questions do you need answered?


Ms. Smith thanked the OWQAP for its productive conversations and opened the floor to the CBI small-group facilitators, Carri Hulet, Doug Thompson, and Kate Harvey, to share summarized report-outs from their breakout groups. The facilitators provided the following ideas, themes, and questions that had been raised by Panel members in the small group discussions, with Panel members adding further details. Bullets represent comments from Panel members within the small group discussions, and do not necessarily reflect fact or the view of the group as a whole.

Positive Aspects of the Plan

  • Use of multiple technologies to leverage the benefits of both traditional and
    nontraditional solutions
  • Correlation of density and need in solutions
  • Good use of existing assets (e.g. permits, disposal sites, and drainage fields)
  • Accounts for previous studies and work on water quality
  • Potential for phasing and gradual implementation over time
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibly in terms of capital rollout and infrastructure construction
  • Site-specific use of new technologies that matches technology to geography
  • Sensitive to overall costs
  • Possibilities for regional collaboration with Eastham and Brewster
  • Potential to achieve economies of scale
  • Ability to achieve rapid water quality improvements using non-traditional technologies
  • Draws on many data sources

Ideas for Improvement

  • Further reduce areas slated for sewering by phasing to test non-traditional technologies early and quickly
  • Identify technical criteria on how to decide where and when to prioritize pilot projects
  • Examine potential regulatory constraints from other federal, state, and local agencies for all new technologies being suggested
  • Ensure non-traditional technologies are thoroughly, safely, and cost-effectively tested before they are widely used
  • South Orleans treatment and disposal site might need more of a buffer with the ACEC
  • Hold off on sewering South Orleans until all non-traditional solutions have been tested, and coordination with Brewster has been explored
  • Flesh out implementation plan and rollout options
  • Talk to Eastham about possible disposal sites possibilities in the area
  • PRBs should not be close to the herring run and might have down-gradient effects
  • Move disposal sites away from residential areas
  • Manage risk with adaptive management, developing contingencies for failure, and bringing in new data
  • Do not assume fertilizer reductions in watersheds using high risk technologies
  • Make sure fertilizer controls will actually achieve predicted nitrogen reductions
  • Make sure aquaculture risks and concerns are taken into account (E.g. navigation, climate, disease, distance, and grant availability)
  • Account for the risks of using FCWs
  • Consider political realities and comparisons of this plan with previous efforts
  • Talk with those with experience using STEP/STEG systems to explore such a system for sewered areas
  • Consider offsite septage treatment


  • Are ecological restorations the same as aquaculture?
  • Why are certain technologies proposed as opposed to others in the hybrid model (E.g. why coastal wetlands over aquaculture in certain areas)?
  • Could use more information on FCWs
  • Is the continued use of Tri-Town assumed, could cluster system be considered?
  • How will O&M and implementation work for shellfish projects?
  • Can PRBs cross ACEC designated areas?

Specific Subwatershed Comments from Participants

  • Rock Harbor
    • Should explore other options because UAA re-classification is not likely
    • Could build smaller PRB initially starting at Locust Road and expand it later as necessary
  • Town Cove
    • Should reduce the impact of sewering on homeowners
    • Create modular plan for sewer expansion in segmented phases as needed
      • Move the location of the proposed aquaculture closer to the shore
    • Pochet
      • Potential to expand aquaculture might run into concerns from neighbors
      • The FCW should be moved away from the dock
    • Arey’s Pond
      • May be too murky for aquaculture, FCW or a PRB might work better
    • Lonnie’s Pond
      • Aquaculture may not be a viable solution
    • Crystal and Pilgrim Pond
      • Should prepare for emerging phosphorous problems

After hearing from each of the small groups, Ms. Smith asked participants to identify what they think emerged from the discussions. Participants suggested the following key themes.
Consultant responses are in italics.

  • There is a clear tension between risk and cost. Timing, phasing, and adaptive management might help balance that tension.
  • More site-specific technical work may be needed to really understand which nontraditional technologies will work in which locations. We need to choose locations to monitor various nontraditional technologies locally. While we have worked to limit the uncertainty, the technologies need testing before they are widely applied in the area.
  • Smart use of phasing and adaptive management offer great potential to reduce costs, by allowing time to prove new technologies and spread capital costs.
  • Timing also allows for more potential for finding future synergies with Brewster and Eastham, despite their different timelines for funding water quality projects
  • There was a growing convergence among participants of the need to start with both a smaller ‘core’ sewer area and simultaneously begin implementation of nontraditional pilot projects, and modifying (growing or shrinking) additional collection areas as needed based on the results of the non-traditional pilots.

Participants also offered the following additional comments. Consultant responses are in italics.

  • We also need to consider regulatory concerns. How long do pilot studies need to run before we have enough data to monitor their performance and ensure regulators will approve them? Mr. Dudley, DEP liaison, noted there needs to be an adequate period to allow for the development of a statistically significant database on performance, which would likely take a maximum of five years. This testing could be part of a phasing program. Concurrent demonstrations programs would expedite the approval process.
  • We should consider allowing time for the testing of pilots before building a lot of infrastructure, especially since nontraditional technologies have the potential to more quickly fix water quality issues.
  • In any scenario, there will still be a core area that needs sewering. What can we do to help this pass Town Meeting: Lower costs or reduce the core’s size?
  • It is not an either/or scenario, we can pilot and install nontraditional technologies and see how they work in three to five years, and at that point, we can adjust the sewering footprint.
  • I understood the plan as testing nontraditional technologies while building traditional technologies at the same time.
  • We could consider shading the potential sewered area different colors to represent different phases, and start with a core area where sewering is most needed, with different shades depicting various levels of possible future expansion if necessary.
  • Before we agree to a traditional core sewer system sending waste to Tri-Town, we should still consider a cluster strategy as well. While we will investigate cluster systems further, this approach could potentially require approximately ten to fifteen systems, all needing individual attention. Moreover, Orleans already has a facility with site designation in an ideal location, though it does need to be upgraded. Siting new facilities will be difficult. Also, the Panel needs to seriously consider the risk of nontraditional technologies. While a sewer system presents a financial risk, the nontraditional solutions have a reliability risk. The hybrid is meant to balance these risks with a plan that does not go to either extreme end.
  • We currently have an approved CWMP that we are now modifying. How will the regulators review this revised plan and take into account the possible failure of nontraditional technologies, and would the town be required to buy land in advance for traditional technologies in case nontraditional approaches do fail? Would the downtown system have opportunities to expand if the remaining CWMP does not work with nontraditional solutions? How will the regulators consider sentinel stations in the review process? Mr. Dudley answered that DEP would evaluate the revised plan in terms of its ability to meet threshold concentrations, which would entail looking at sentinel station results to verify projected removal targets. The regulatory review would focus on the technology perspective and entail a MEPA review. The DEP evaluation would also examine the contingency plan if nontraditional technologies failed, which would need to meet compliance with proven technologies. DEP would also like to see intermunicipal cooperation and regional approaches to achieve economies of scale.
  • What would be the obstacle to starting with the approved plan with modifications to the core segment and pilot testing on the side? Don’t we need to start with this approach so we know what needs to be modified when we submit the plan to the regulators in the case that the nontraditional approaches prove unsuccessful? Mr. Dudley responded that there should be no regulatory problem for the approved core. It would just need to be run by MEPA as a notice for project change, which would require some additional review. Ms. Patty Daley, CCC liaison, agreed with Mr. Dudley and added that Orleans would not need to purchase additional property in advance as a contingency, since a focus of the 208 Plan is affordability. The CCC would not need to review the plan if Orleans goes forward with the approved core. Other changes to the plan would require review to ensure the plan is consistent with the 208 approach. Recent regulatory changes have allowed the CCC to collapse its review with MEPA to streamline the process.
  • We should look into opportunities for public-private partnerships. We are looking into this and how best to maximize the use of existing infrastructure.
  • We need to look into the costs for building and operating various technologies, as this will drive what we eventually do, as will efficiencies. It is important for Orleans to think about the town’s management structure for these scenarios. The use of nontraditional technologies would require an aggressive management program. For technologies to perform appropriately, they need to be properly maintained and managed, which has cost implications.
  • If Orleans did implement a sewer system, would the existing cluster systems be left intact to minimize sewering? Existing cluster systems could be part of the sewer system with their effluent treated at Tri-Town. We would not necessarily close new cluster systems, especially if privately owned, in which case the town and private owner could work together to finance upgraded systems. Mr. Dudley noted that, since clusters remove less nitrogen than traditional systems, keeping clusters installed might mean the town would have to offset the remaining nitrogen with other technologies.

Ms. Karplus asked the OWQAP whether the team should consider sewering the area north of Meetinghouse Pond in the next proposal. One participant suggested looking first into more alternative nontraditional technologies that could be more cost-effective. Ms. Karplus responded that since Meetinghouse Pond needs 100% reduction and has limited space for nontraditional technologies, a purely non-traditional solution require use of ecotoilets or highly advanced I/A systems, which would both be expensive. Another participant noted that this hybrid plan already has less infrastructure around Meetinghouse Pond than older plans, as in situ solutions allow for less houses in the area to be connected to a sewer system. Another participant commented that they liked the hybrid’s approach towards Meetinghouse Pond, since it includes both traditional and nontraditional solutions. The participant felt that the area definitely needs traditional technologies, but nontraditional approaches will help the area improve more quickly and are sustainable in the long-term.


Ms. Smith lauded the Panel for its productive conversations and helpful feedback. She noted the team would work on drafting scenarios consistent with this initial phasing idea, including looking more into the advantages and disadvantages of cluster systems in the downtown area. Mr. Domenica added the team would investigate taking flow from a South Orleans plant with a forced main to Chatham for treatment.

Specifically, Ms. Smith told the Panel that the consultant team would work on several tasks in response to the Panel’s feedback about the initial hybrid plan, including:

  • Soliciting additional thoughts from the Panel on sub-watershed plans, locations for pilot projects, where to add or subtract specific nontraditional technologies, and on the sewering core
  • Look further into places where sewering is necessary to guide conversations on the sewer core
  • Explore the possibility of a phased sewer approach, and identify the areas for highest priority sewering
  • Recommend potential pilot sites for nontraditional technologies
  • Clarify the vision of the rest of the project’s puzzle pieces to ensure a basic level of comfort with the plan

Members of the public provided the following comments.

  • When talking about the priority sewered areas, we need to think about public health considerations in addition to nutrient concerns. Many septic sites are close to failing, and there are a number of cesspools in the area.
  • We may think that delaying implementation will reduce costs, but it actually increases overall costs due to inflation. The 2009 CWMP cost $149 million, and the same plan costs much more today. There is a cost to delays and extended talking.

Mr. Dunford asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting. The Panel approved the motion.

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