Videos: City Council Public Hearing – Drinking Water Protection Ordinance

Here is a complete video of the 7/1/10 City Council hearing on the Drinking Water Protection Ordinance (PDF). This ordinance (Chapter 325 Water – Add Article III, Drinking Water) would prohibit the establishment or expansion of landfills over aquifers or in Water Supply Protection Districts. It would have the effect of halting expansion of the Northampton municipal landfill over the recharge area of the Barnes Aquifer. This video is 1 hour 50 minutes long and was recorded by Adam Cohen.

The Drinking Water Protection Ordinance will come before the regular meeting of the City Council on July 8 at City Council Chambers, 212 Main Street (see PDF of agenda). The public comment period begins at 7:15pm. Concerned citizens are urged to attend.

We have broken out three short YouTube excerpts from the beginning of the hearing. The first shows ordinance opponent Terry Culhane, chair of the Board of Public Works. Culhane believes expanding the municipal landfill would be profitable for the city.

The second YouTube video shows ordinance opponent Jim Dostal, a former City Council president and current member of the Board of Public Works. Dostal believes expanding the landfill would not pose significant risks to the environment.

The third YouTube video shows ordinance supporters from Water Not Waste: Mimi Odgers, Jo-Anne Bessette and Adam Cohen. They argue it’s unreasonable to put valuable water at risk when affordable and more ecologically sound alternatives exist. The landfill when capped does not have to be dead money, but has revenue potential as a site for a solar power array. They also argue that Northampton’s subpar recycling rate may reflect the fact that operating a landfill gives the city an economic incentive to tip more tons of waste, not recycle them. Download the Water Not Waste slide presentation (PDF).

See also:

Department of Public Works: Landfill Studies and Presentations  

Barnes Aquifer Protection Advisory Committee: Letter of 6/28/10 in support of Drinking Water Protection Ordinance (PDF, 1MB)
While recognizing advances in landfill engineering and technology are safer than those used on the original landfill, BAPAC notes that across the country, landfill liners have failed, polluting surface and groundwater sources. While the landfill may have an extended lifetime of 30 years with the new cell, the aquifer represents a critical water source for all future generations that must be protected.

Department of Public Works Responds to BAPAC Letter (PDF, 10MB)
Brown and Caldwell has reviewed the data and recognizes that the iron and manganese concentrations appear to be increasing at well MW-B, however, we do not believe there is adequate evidence to support BAPAC’s conclusion that the amount of leachate leaking from the landfill is increasing.

Gazette: “Council hears landfill arguments” (7/1/10)
Approximately 100 people attended the public hearing Thursday, most of whom urged the council to adopt the ordinance change that they said makes common sense. It also would fall in line with nearly two-thirds of those who went to the polls last fall and said the city should not expand the landfill over the Barnes Aquifer.

Greenfield, MA: Solar Farm Project – Contract Signed (6/25/10)
After a competitive procurement process, the Town selected Axio Green, LLC to design, develop, construct and operate of a 2.0 MW solar installation on the Town’s capped landfill off Wisdom Way. Construction of solar installations on landfills is considered to be an ideal use of such property…

The farm will annually generate approximately 2,400,000 kwh of power. This represents 45% of the electricity used by all town owned buildings, including the schools, and the Town anticipates it will save approximately $250,000 in electrical costs during the first full year of operation.

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

Video Highlights: BPW on the Dam, Landfill (6/30/10)

Northampton Media: “Methane operator owes $265,000 in unpaid fees, city claims” (6/29/10)

Gazette: “Cost for city-bought house near Northampton landfill cut again” (6/16/10)

Video: Board of Public Works Meeting of 7/29/09; Roberts Meadow Upper Reservoir Dam; Landfill Alternatives

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)

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