Sludge-tastica: Flowing Downhill
Photo courtesy of M the Media Project
In local news, the Conservation Commision of Gardner, MA unanimously voted a positive determination that the certified vernal pools are subject to the Gardner Wetland Protection Ordinance. This places additional pressure on municipal officials including the Director of DPW, Mayor and other officials who prefer an expansion of the abutting Sludge Landfill, in operation for more than 30 years on property abutting private land owners, cemeteries and now the Cummings Conservation Area.
The conversation area protects, among other natural assets, the city’s last intact cold water brook. This area also feeds the Otter River, which in turn flows to the Millers River and on to the Connecticut, a federally protected waterway.
We collected a statement from Gardner Clean Air leadership and property abutter, Alan Rousseau.
Disposal of sludge , a by-product of Wastewater Treatment Plants, is a challenge for many cities and towns across Massachusetts. Gardner is fast approaching a point where a final decision must be made on a future solution. Alternatives currently exist that include land disposal, incineration, recycling to soils such as compost or fertilizer, and Anaerobic Digestion (AD). Gardner has been using land disposal (sludge landfill) for 30 years, but the existing landfill is about to reach it’s capacity. The Gardner DPW Director and his consultant have proposed doubling the size of the existing landfill. Is expanding the sludge landfill a good solution for the next 30 years? If this was the best solution, every city and town in Massachusetts would be aggressively opting for this one. This expansion is being proposed for the Wildwood Cemetery Forest. The property abuts the Cummings Conservation Area. As an abutting property owner, I have experienced the odors over the years and am concerned about the risk of ground water contamination impacting private wells, wetlands, ponds, and the Otter River. The Millers River Watershed Council is also very concerned and opposed to a landfill expansion. The expansion footprint includes state certified vernal pools and a historic esker. Earlier this week, the Gardner Conservation Commission unanimously voted a positive determination that the certified vernal pools are subject to the Gardner Wetland Protection Ordinance. We must not be complacent on choosing a solution of impact for the next 30 years! We should be demonstrating leadership for the best environmental solution. The Wildwood Cemetery Forest and Cummings Conservation Area belong to the citizens of Gardner. We have duty to protect this land for Gardner’s future generations!!
Our discussion focused on introducing the major players and major concerns to our listeners, both long-time and newly-minted locals while introducing listeners to alternatives to keeping a sludge landfill open. Issues of land-use, property rights, economic development, urban planning, innovation and yes, politics abound when it comes to the Sludge-tastic City of Gardner!
View Slideshow on alternative to Sludge Landfills
We attempt to look at the issue of rooting out deviancy and demanding social justice while simultaneously preventing unwarranted character assassination. There are a wide range of perspectives to unpack. We made every attempt with sensitivity to victims on this story. We hope you’ll agree we all need to let our humanity show more on issues concerning the victimization of individuals.
All that and more on this weeks Scotts on the Rocks Politica Podcast.
The Sludge-tastic City of Gardner
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