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Water treatment facility eyed for public use

CAMP EDWARDS – The Cape Cod Commission has its eye on the wastewater treatment facility at Joint Base Cape Cod for one or more of the surrounding towns.

The Barnstable County planning agency is finishing up a land-use study that includes looking at the wastewater plant’s excess capacity, Sharon Rooney, its chief planner, said Wednesday. She was appearing before the Environmental Management Commission, a three-member panel of state environmental commissioners that oversees whether military uses are compatible with preserving habitat and environment on the Upper Cape base.

At 275,000 gallons per day, the base’s treatment plant is well below capacity and could be a partial solution for a big issue on Cape Cod, Mark Begley, the management commission’s executive director, said.

The plant would be reserved for military and community use, Rooney said.

“We’re optimistic going forward that we’ll be able to do something on this,” she said.

The planning agency has an agreement with Brig. Gen. Gary Keefe, the Joint Base Cape Cod executive director, to see if there’s funding for a feasibility study. That study would explore whether it’s better to have the Air Force retain ownership of the wastewater plant or have a private company take over and assume any costs for capital improvements and maintenance.

The land-use study, which was last updated in 2005, also looks at shared public works, relocation of a fire-training academy currently located in Barnstable and exploring alternative uses of the Upper Cape Regional Transfer Station located on the base, Rooney said.

The study also recommends continuing to explore economic development at the base. About 210 acres in the industrial portion of the base have been identified for potential businesses that would complement military uses at the base, Keefe said.

Meanwhile, the state environment commissioners approved a fifth wind turbine for the Massachusetts National Guard near the PAVE PAWS radar station to add to the four existing turbines, pending environmental review. The 1.68-megawatt turbine would be located on a site already approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, Paul Nixon, the project manager, said.

“This would bring us another big step toward making (the base) a net-zero energy installation,” Nixon said.

The turbine would provide 75 percent of the electricity for Camp Edwards, he said. The other turbines supply power to the radar station and water treatment plants.

By 2014, 50 percent of the energy consumed on the base will be from renewable energy sources, including a 6.8-megawatt solar array that’s scheduled to go out to bid soon, Michael Ciaranca, director of the Guard’s Environmental and Readiness Center, said.

The environmental commissioners also heard the Guard’s long-range plan to expand the number of small-arms ranges to accommodate more mandatory training for soldiers.

“We don’t meet the needs, so they have to fire at (Fort Devens),” Maj. Michael Desimone, said. But, he added, getting time on ranges for machine gun training, for example, can be difficult at Devens because of the demand.