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Leadership and Excellence in
Environmental Engineering and Science

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2011 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science™ Awards Competition Winner

E3S Grand Prize

Grand Prize - Planning

Town of Chatham MA Comprehensive Wastewater Management Planning (CWMP) Project

Entrant: GHD Inc. and Town of Chatham
Engineer in Charge: William R. Hall, Jr., P.E., BCEE
Location: Chatham, Massachusetts
Media Contact: Nathan C. Weeks, P.E., BCEE


Entrant Profile

The Town of Chatham is a small coastal community of approximately 7,000 year-round residents whose median income is less than the Massachusetts average. The Town is located on the "elbow" of Cape Cod (illustrated on Figure 1) and relies on its fishing and tourist/vacation economies. The Town has experienced large residential growth and environmental impacts due to the use of individual septic systems on small properties. This development has produced water quality problems that need to be solved through the Comprehensive Wastewater Management Planning (CWMP) Project. The following specific problems have been documented:

GHD Inc. (formerly Stearns & Wheler, LLC) was selected by the Town of Chatham in 1997 to complete the CWMP Project. GHD is an international company with offices around the world and extensive expertise in water resource management and advanced wastewater treatment. The company's nitrogen management experience has been valuable for the CWMP Project. The company's office on Cape Cod (since 1995) has greatly assisted with project delivery.

A map of GHD office locations and a discussion of GHD's US operations are included as Figure 3.

Project Description

The Town of Chatham Massachusetts (Town) Comprehensive Wastewater Management Planning (CWMP) Project was initiated in 1997 and was completed in July 2009 with the Project Approval Certificate from the Massachusetts EOEEA (regulatory agency).

The project was necessary for the following reasons:

After twelve years of engineering evaluation and community decision making, the CWMP was approved to include the following components:

The timing and capital cost of plan implementation is listed below:

E3S Photos

Total capital costs are estimated at $300M to be spent in thirty years by a Town with a year-round population of less than 10,000 people and a median income less than the state's average. In April 2009, Town Meeting appropriated approximately $60M for the initial implementation of Phase 1 as illustrated in Figures 5 and 6. Phase 1 construction is now underway, as illustrated in Figure 7 (aerial photo).

An Integrated Approach was needed, and was provided as follows:

Project quality and innovation were used to build the needed public and regulatory understanding to gain approval of the plan including:

Project completion provides the following social and economic advances in Chatham:

Views of the Town scenery and coastal resources are provided in Figures 8 - 10.


Click images to enlarge in separate window.

E3S Photos

Figure 1. Project Location map which illustrates the following items:

  • Location of Chatham on Cape Cod
  • The following estuarine systems with TMDLs
    • Bassing Harbor System (of Pleasant Bay) which includes Crows Pond and Ryders Cove
    • Stage Harbor System which includes Mitchell River, Mill Pond, and Oyster Pond
    • Bucks Creek and Sulphur Springs (not labeled)
    • Taylors Pond and Mill Creek
  • The many freshwater ponds
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Figure 2. Needed Septic System Nitrogen Removals to Meet TMDLs.

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Figure 3. Information on GHD including location of GHD offices in the United States.

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Figure 4. Phase 1 and 2 Sewer Expansion Areas illustrating the Phase 1 sewer extensions needed tomeet the TMDLs and the Phase 2 sewer extensions to extend sewers to the rest of the Town. The individual sewersheds of both areas are also illustrated.

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Figure 5. Initial Implementation Area illustrating:

  • The WWTF site location
  • Existing sewered area in red
  • Phase 1 sewer extension area in light blue
  • Initial implementation area in dark blue
  • Existing sewer lines in red and yellow
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Figure 6. Recommended Plan for the WWTF site illustrates the recommended facilities at the completion of the CWMP in July 2009 including:

  • Proposed Influent Building, Reactor Junction Box oxidation ditch (Orbal®) reactor, RAS/WAS Pump Building, Clarifiers, Methanol Facility, Effluent Filter, Parshall Flume, and Distribution Box.
  • Existing Sludge Dewatering Building.
  • Exisitng aeration tanks labeled as sludge holding tanks (they will be converted to sludge tanks).
  • Two small existing clarifiers (one has been demolished to make room for the Water and Sewer Operations Building, and one is still in operation).
  • The Water and Sewer operations building which was reconfigured during detailed design. Existing and future sand infiltration beds.
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Figure 7. Aerial view of WWTF construction in November 2010 illustrating the major structures.

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Figure 8. Shellfisherman in the estuary

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Figure 9. Coastal beach and the outlet of the Bucks Creek/Sulphur Springs Estuary

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Figure 10. Stormwater discharge point planned for remediation


Click here to return to the list of 2011 winners.

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