July 1: City Council Public Hearing – Drinking Water Protection Ordinance

Water Not Waste has issued this press release. We urge concerned citizens to attend the July 1 hearing.

Water Not Waste supports the Drinking Water Protection Ordinance sponsored by City Councilor at Large David Narkewicz, Ward 6 City Councilor Marianne LaBarge, Ward 7 City Councilor Gene Tacy, and Ward 4 City Councilor Pamela Schwartz.

This ordinance will ban landfills in all Water Supply Protection Districts in Northampton including the Water Supply Protection District over the Barnes Aquifer.

The text of the proposed ordinance:

“No new landfills or open dumps as defined in 310 CMR 19 as amended, or expansions of existing facilities or new landfill cells, shall be allowed over aquifers, or in the Zone II protection area of an aquifer, or any area zoned as a Water Supply Protection District.”

  • All Water Supply Protection Districts in Massachusetts ban landfills because they have the highest contaminant threat to the water supply.
  • In November 2009, over 60% of Northampton voters said NO to expanding the landfill over the Barnes Aquifer. The Drinking Water Protection Ordinance will fulfill that mandate.
  • This is an opportunity for Northampton to develop environmentally responsible and affordable programs to manage our solid waste and to seek alternative green energy uses for the closed landfill site with the potential to generate revenue.

The Northampton City Council will hold a public hearing on the Drinking Water Ordinance on Thursday, July 1, at 7pm at the JFK Middle School Community Room, 100 Bridge Road in Northampton (map).

See also:

Video: Hilltown Solid Waste Forum, May 19, 2010

Northampton Media: Planning Board Splits 3-3 on Prohibiting Landfills from Water Supply Protection Districts (3/28/10)
An initial vote had members Baker, Sullivan and Johnston in support of recommending the amendment to the Ordinance Committee, with Richards, Kohout and Gilson in opposition. In light of the tied vote, a second motion to advance the zone change with no recommendation passed unanimously.

“It was wrong of the DEP to grant the waiver,” said Johnston, who called the final vote to advance with no recommendation “pathetic”.

Sullivan said that he was “morally” in favor of the resolution, even if it proved to have no effect upon the zoning and permitting process.

Baker called the zoning amendment a “simple, clear, and responsible way to eliminate the maybes and whatevers”.

Richards opposed the amendment on the grounds that it would be “confusing to voters”.

Kohout opposed the amendment because it “eliminates room for discussing a full range of options”.

Gilson said that the amendment “doesn’t do what the petitioners want, which is to stop the landfill”.

Gazette: “Northampton landfill zoning change up in air: Planners make no recommendation” (3/26/10)
Even though expansion of the Glendale Road facility appears to be on the back burner following a council resolution advising the Board of Public Works to terminate such efforts, opponents note that nothing in the nonbinding resolution removes expansion as a future alternative.

“They are still trying to keep that option open,” said Mimi Odgers, chairwoman of Water Not Waste who lives near the landfill at 97 Glendale Road.

Water Not Waste members want the council to go further and approve a proposed zoning change that would prohibit landfills in water supply protection districts. They remain leery that the city will one day resurrect expansion plans after it studies other ways to deal with its trash, as the BPW is instructed to do in the nonbinding resolution.

Toxics Action Center Issues Press Release in Conjunction with Water Not Waste (3/25/10)

Northampton Media: “Council passes solid waste resolution, 5-3-1 (3/18/10)
With five yeses, three abstentions, and a single no vote, City Council passed a resolution on Thursday that “advises the Board of Public Works to terminate further action on the landfill expansion in order to begin planning for both the scheduled closure of the existing Glendale Road facility and for how Northampton will manage its solid waste when our landfill closes.”

Rebuttal to Dr. Geoffrey Kuter’s Brief for Landfill Expansion (1/26/10)

Barnes Aquifer Protection Advisory Committee: “Why Aquifers and Landfills Don’t Mix” (10/27/09)

Video: Mayoral Debate, 10/27/09; Landfill Risks; Costs of Alternatives to Landfill Expansion

Paradise City Forum: Landfill and Aquifer