Lake Ellis Partnership endorses stormwater management plan

View of Lake Ellis in Athol.

View of Lake Ellis in Athol. File Photo/Greg Vine

Members of the Lake Ellis Watershed Management Partnership discuss plans for managing stormwater that runs into the lake. The project would be funded by a $200,000 grant overseen by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Athol Planning and Development Director Eric Smith will be submitting the grant application next week.

Members of the Lake Ellis Watershed Management Partnership discuss plans for managing stormwater that runs into the lake. The project would be funded by a $200,000 grant overseen by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Athol Planning and Development Director Eric Smith will be submitting the grant application next week. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 05-19-2024 5:00 PM

ATHOL – The Lake Ellis Watershed Management Partnership Wednesday endorsed Planning and Development Director Eric Smith’s proposal to seek a $200,000 grant to address stormwater runoff entering the lake.

The competitive Section 319 grants are funded by the federal government and administered in Massachusetts by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The deadline for submitting the grant is Friday, May 24.

Monies from the grant will, if approved, pay for a $192,000 project proposed by the engineering firm of Wright-Pierce of Westfield, designed to treat runoff flowing into the lake from the Bearsden Conservation Area. The elevation from the conservation area to Lake Ellis drops by approximately 300 feet, with stormwater running into the north end of the lake via the neighborhood between Colonial Drive, Bearsden Road and Athol High School.

The plan is a change from a proposal to relocate the 48-inch drainpipe that feeds into the lake just west of the public beach. Instead, bioremediation will be used to treat the water before it gets to the lake.

“We were looking for recommendations to try to reduce the quantity and quality of the runoff,” Smith said, “especially the quality.”

The engineers, he said, had suggested addressing the issue in phases, including installation of a forebay, which is designed to slow stormwater runoff and filter out sediment, along with some dredging.

“But we had to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got about $200,000 that we can apply for and we don’t have any money for a match,’ Smith said.

“So, they came back and are proposing two hydrodynamic in-line stormwater treatment devices. One goes on-line and the other is off-line. In-line means it’s basically in the path of the drain, so as the water goes into the drain it will be treated by this hydrodynamic device. The one that is off-line is parallel to the (drainpipe); the water and the sediment go into it and it’s basically treated by putting all the sediment there, and then the water goes into Lake Ellis.”

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Asked for more detail regarding what the hydrodynamic treatment devices are supposed to accomplish, Smith said that they will remove solids, oils, grease and other debris from stormwater runoff through gravitational trapping of pollutants. They are also designed to remove phosphorous from the water.

Assistant Public Works Director Paul Raskevitz told the committee that the DPW would be charged with maintaining the devices and removing accumulated sediments for disposal at an approved site.

Smith said that, in addition to dealing with the runoff, community education – a requirement of the grant – will be utilized through signage and mailings to about 100 properties around the lake.

“We’d obviously like to apply for more funding in the future,” said Smith. “We’d obviously like to do more work above the area around Starrett Avenue, but that’s going to be a future project.”

Lake Ellis Partnership members voted unanimously to endorse the grant application and supply a letter of support for Smith to include. Smith said he also hopes to gain similar support from the Nashua River Watershed Council, Friends of Lake Ellis and from Athol’s DPW.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.