The Town of Barnstable and Converge Partners, LLC, have submitted a joint proposal to take over operation of a sewer plant on Joint Base Cape Cod—a facility that eventually could treat wastewater from Barnstable and the four Upper Cape towns.
In an email statement, Colonel Virginia I. Gaglio of the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the Air National Guard confirmed the proposal.
The four Upper Cape towns and Barnstable have looked to the utility facilities, which the 102nd Wing currently operates, as a prospective location for a shared wastewater treatment facility.
“The US Air Force and Air National Guard’s installations department will be reviewing the proposal to see if it meets the criteria for an exchange of the utilities” and is expected to issue a decision toward the end of October, Col. Gaglio said.
Barnstable Town Manager Mark S. Ells announced the joint proposal on Thursday October 3 in a presentation before his town’s council.
Mr. Ells called Converge’s and Barnstable’s interest in the base’s facility “complementary.”
Converge is focused on the short term and wants to upgrade and run the existing facility for its current customers at the base, he said, while Barnstable is interested in securing a position for long-term property ownership for possible construction of a regional wastewater facility in the future.
“We very much approach this from a regional facility perspective,” the town manager said. “We see this working in the long term—if it is to work—by partnering with the other four communities that would benefit by having a regional wastewater facility as an option.”
Converge did not intend to create that regional option, Mr. Ells said, but they are not “adverse” to the idea and have “obligated to put together a proposal to build up to a $250 million facility up there to service the four communities and then sit down with us collectively and see how that compares to other options.”
If the towns do not like the regional option proposed by Converge, the joint proposal leaves open the option of the towns pursuing a regional facility without Converge, he said.
A shared wastewater management study by the towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee, Sandwich, Barnstable and Joint Base Cape Cod published in 2019 said the “potential transfer of the JBCC wastewater facilities from the federal government to a local entity represents a significant opportunity for regional use by the surrounding towns.”
The existing wastewater facilities would require replacement or upgrades to serve the regional needs, the study states.
Various regulatory and legal hurdles are yet to come, should the military agree to the joint proposal. The shared wastewater management study estimates construction on a shared facility beginning no sooner than 2023.
Recently, Sandwich Town Manager George H. (Bud) Dunham notified the town’s capital improvement planning committee that Barnstable and Converge, which formerly had been pursuing individual proposals for the facility, had put together a joint offer. The planning committee advises the town on large capital projects.
Mr. Dunham said the four towns—Sandwich, Mashpee, Falmouth and Bourne—have different needs for wastewater systems, but all could benefit from a regional solution and all are on board with a joint Barnstable/Converge management plan.
He also said the state Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled a meeting to discuss the permitting process for the regional plan.
The four towns have determined that they would need a wastewater system that could process about four million gallons a day of effluent, Mr. Dunham said.
“The good news is that the [military] base has plenty of ability to pump, but the system needs to be modernized,” Mr. Dunham said. “In six months from now, we’ll know more.”