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Tisbury,US

To Sewer: Con

The Joint Waste Water planning Committee, formed in the fall of 2014 and comprised of town officials from Oak Bluffs and Tisbury, is researching (1) any and all new technologies (including sewering) that will work to reduce or even eliminate the introduction of nitrogen into the Lagoon Pond watershed, (2) treat/remove nitrogen already in the Pond and (3) slow/stop the introduction of nitrogen in the ground water already on its way to the Pond.

While sewering is the best option for stopping introduction of new nitrogen into the watershed, it is the most expensive option and will be a “hard sell” to the property owners.

As with most technology in the world, there are new and improved systems being developed to treat waste water on-site and must be considered. Some of the newer systems are being tested on Cape Cod and remember; Cape Cod is far ahead of the Vineyard in dealing with nitrogen overloading and research into the “options” available. The Point® System is one such system. Initial research shows that 98% of the nitrogen can be removed with this alternative on-site septic system that relies on “oxidation of septic ammonia to nitrate with subsequent anaerobic, carbon-mediated oxidation to nitrogen gas”. While that is a “mouthful” of scientific jargon, in plain English, the system is being built to convert nitrates into non-toxic nitrogen gas that dissipates into the air and not into the soil. Treating/removing nitrogen already in the Pond is a fairly new concept. One new technology being developed is the Quantum Ozone UV/ION In-Situ Storm Water System™.

Quantum Ozone developed patented technology to control the contamination of water through the application of ozone gas. The UV/ION In-Situ Storm Water System has a portable generator that can be submerged into contaminated liquids or bodies of water and can easily be adapted to deliver the required Ozone via an in-situ application”. “Ozone, nature’s own powerful antioxidant, safely cleans and purifies water”.

Control of storm water runoff is one of several ways to slow/stop nitrogen and other toxic chemicals from being introduced into the Lagoon. Recent studies in the Puget Sound area of Washington State show that “Storm water runoff causes many serious problems in Puget Sound – in fact, it may be the most serious undermanaged threat to the health and vitality of the Sound. Studies show that the sources of many toxic chemicals found in the Sound are delivered via surface runoff”. As a result, the Puget Sound Partnership was formed and they are promoting “Limited Impact Development” in their region.

In conclusion, the best way to save Lagoon Pond from Nitrogen overloading is to utilize a combination of different systems that fit specific areas. For example, the densely populated areas along Barnes Rd and the north end of County Road in Oak Bluffs and the areas along Old Oklahoma Rd in Tisbury would benefit from sewering while areas near the Lagoon opening and areas with larger lot sizes would benefit from newer onsite septic technologies.

Back to the original question: To Sewer or not to Sewer? The answer is “It depends”! In some areas of the Lagoon Pond watershed it makes sense. In other areas it does not.

– Doug Reece

To Sewer: Pro