The Town of Barnstable has submitted a letter of interest to Joint Base Cape Cod to take over the operation of its wastewater treatment plant and water utilities, a move that could transform the base’s operation into a regional facility shared between the town and the four municipalities of the Upper Cape.
All four Upper Cape towns have looked at using various parts of the base’s treatment facility to help in their comprehensive sewer plans, including using the actual plant as well as the discharge area at the Cape Cod Canal.
Barnstable recently joined the negotiations with the four towns and, because of its experience with wastewater and the size of its municipal staff, submitted a letter of interest to the base last week.
Mashpee Town Manager Rodney C. Collins said that he could have a joint powers agreement for the Mashpee selectmen to sign that would lay out an agreement with Barnstable and the base.
The Mid-Cape town’s request arrived after another request had been made to take over the facility. Colonel Virginia I. Gaglio, commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the US Air National Guard told the Mashpee Board of Selectmen on Monday, June 3, that the for-profit company Converge made an offer to run the same facilities.
Col. Gaglio did not expand on the details of the two proposals, other than to say that Barnstable is requesting an opportunity to enter into a period of negotiations and research the base’s wastewater treatment facilities.
Barnstable Assistant Town Manager M. Andrew Clyburn did not respond for comment but Barnstable has worked with the four Upper Cape towns leading up to the submission of its letter of interest. The town has also worked with Sandwich in order to receive permission to run piping from Barnstable through Sandwich to reach the Joint Base facility.
Col. Gaglio said the Air National Guard bureau in Washington, DC, will review the offers before making a decision.
Joint Base Cape Cod is in the process of divesting 102nd Intelligence Wing property and utilities to reduce the base’s overall land footprint. Aside from the wastewater and water treatment operation, Col. Gaglio said they were successful in transferring about 150 acres in the middle of the base back to the commonwealth.
The Upper Cape towns have a strong interest in using the base’s treatment plant. Sewer infrastructure is expensive and the base offers a potential to use an existing facility rather than starting from scratch.
For example, the design alone of a new treatment plant proposed near Asher’s Path in Mashpee has been estimated to cost about a million dollars. The estimated construction cost has been estimated at some $30 million.
While all four towns are on different phases of their wastewater projects, each town could make use of the facility in different ways.
Mashpee hopes to treat effluent collected from homes within the Waquoit watershed, as outlined in the second phase of its comprehensive wastewater plan. The town would install a sewer line over a mile long to connect to the treatment plant on the base.
Falmouth has eyed a discharge area for some of its treated effluent, which would involve the installation of a sewer main more than six miles long to run from West Falmouth to the Cape Cod Canal.
Sandwich, which has yet to complete a state-certified wastewater plan, could share a sewer main connection with Bourne. The length of the shortest route, outlined in the study, would come to about five miles of piping.
The four towns have investigated the potential of the base’s facilities with the help of two feasibility studies.
The letter of interest from Barnstable marks the first time that the Upper Cape towns have submitted a formal request to take over the operation. Converge is the first for-profit company to make an offer.
In September, the Mashpee Wampanoag Community Development Corporation provided the 102nd Intelligence Wing with its own letter of interest in operating the plant.