Dover-Sherborn School District superintendent Valerie Spriggs announced Thursday that the district has filed a complaint against the designers of the high school’s wastewater treatment facility.
The $520,000 replacement of that facility under mandate by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection was a hot bed of discussion for both Sherborn and Dover during the preparation for their respective Town Meetings.
Superintendent Spriggs said that the Regional School Committee has met many times in executive session over the last several months with legal counsel discussing this issue.
She said that they met once again this past Tuesday night and that their counsel filed the complaint against Stearns & Wheler on Wednesday morning.
According to the complaint, in 2002 environmental engineers Stearns and Wheler were hired out of their Hyannis office to design the high school's wastewater treatment facility. The company has several offices along the eastern seaboard along with their main office in Cazenovia, New York.
The facility’s use began on January of 2003 and on Dec. 29, 2003 the Mass DEP issued their first notice of non-compliance to the district for not adhering to the standards of the amount of incoming waste being treated by the facility.
According to the complaint document, in 2005 the district asked Stearns and Wheler to, “evaluate the wastewater treatment facility as a result of the facility’s problem with meeting the effluent discharge limits contained in the Discharge Permit.”
Stearns and Wheler responded stating that there were “multiple problems causing the facility not to perform well.” Later in 2009, when the facility was still in non-compliance with the Mass DEP, Stearns and Wheler identified “operator issues” as the trouble.
The district also incurred $56,000 with another engineering company that determined toxins may be involved with the facility not working correctly.
In June of 2010, the district hired Martinage Engineering Associates and they determined the facility has not been designed for the “incoming raw Biochemical Oxygen Demand strength that the waste actually has,” their flow equalization tank is inadequate and that the nitrification process is sensitive to the cold and must have a warm air flow.
In conclusion the complaint states the facility does not meet, “standards of skill, care, and diligence” and that Stearns and Wheler are in breach of contract.