Summary of Presentation by Bryan Horsley, MASSTC
by Don Williams
Bryan Horsley gave an interesting and informative presentation on September 20th on the work being done at the Massachusetts Septic System Testing Center (MASSTC) to reduce the pollution in our groundwater, ponds, and estuaries due to septic systems. Bryan had requested our Water Quality Plan so that he could fashion the presentation to better meet our needs. The MASSTC facility is supported by Barnstable County and IS THE ONLY ONE OF IT’S KIND IN THE UNITED STATES.
Bryan pointed out that sewers are not the be-all and end-all solutions to prevention of non-point-source pollution in our waterways given the distance that sewage may need to be transported and the amount of energy needed to treat large volumes of sewage water.
Those present in person and via Zoom had ample opportunity to ask questions and engage Bryan in worthwhile dialogue that led to deeper understanding of the issues on everyone’s part.
- Ground water monitoring may be a useful way to chart the presence and extent of phosphorus plumes.
- The use of septic modification (e.g., addition of electrified iron plates) might be a cost- and environment-effective alternative to sewering. Sewering may not be the most environmentally effective way to deal with phosphorus pollution. Modification of septic systems may work just a well as sewering for removal of phosphorus from our wastewater stream and may be less costly to the individual homeowner than sewering. In addition, we may be able to implement the iron plates more quickly than sewering given the distance of the nearest sewer treatment plant from us. This sounds like an excellent “Plan B,” especially since the cost is less than that of sewering.
- Bryan stated that not only phosphorus may be responsible for cyanobacteria blooms; nitrogen may also play a role.
- Septic add-ons may provide the same phosphorus removal efficiency as sewering.
- Cluster septic systems may be a cheaper, more effective way to remove phosphorus from septic waste streams.
- Separation and recycling of urine (use as fertilizer) is an excellent way to remove a lot of phosphorus from the waste stream.
- NRCS can give us information on how to take soil samples to see how much phosphorus remains in old cranberry bogs.
If you are interested in learning more you can view the recording of the presentation by clicking here.