Stupid is as stupid does

In the remake of The Graduate, to be filmed on location in Wolfeboro, the buzzword will be updated from “plastics” to “drip irrigation”.  OK, that’s two words. Tune in to any recent Selectmen’s meeting and listen to them talk about drip irrigation like it’s going to miraculously solve the town’s ten-year saga of sewage effluent disposal.

In an effort to jack-up Wright Pierce for tens of millions of dollars, the town swore to a judge and jury that our RIB system was completely failed and the land with all of the infrastructure has absolutely no value going forward. Now that all we got was enough to pay the lawyers and the loans, we are left with nothing going forward.

Enter drip irrigation to present the illusion that there is some miracle solution that has eluded us up until now.  The Selectmen are planning to spend $700,000 next year on a “pilot program” and have submitted a request to the state for $5.1 million in loans to build a larger system.

The request to the state is based on a December 2012 report produced by Underwood Engineers.  Back then, they had identified a bunch of town land that they thought could be used for drip irrigation.  They didn’t actually look at the land, mind you.  They just – identified it. You know, on a map.

The suggested capacity of the proposed drip system was 43 million gallons per year.  According to the report, combined with the existing spray fields, that would be about half of what the town currently needs.  The cost was estimated at $5.1 million.

They proposed an in-depth evaluation to include accurate mapping, test boring, and soil sampling to more accurately determine capacity.  The town ponied up the requested money.  On June 3 of this year we got the report.  Turns out most of the land is not that viable, and the estimate was downgraded from 43 million gallons per year to 16.

Well, at least the 16 million can be supported by test pits and soil samples right?  Er, not really.  It seems the money to do actual engineering ran out, so they just walked around for a couple of days and looked at the land.   Maybe they learned a lesson from Wright-Pierce.  Once you start doing that scientific stuff, you leave yourself wide open for an expert witness who’s never done it to say you didn’t do enough.

Not to be discouraged, two weeks later on June 20, the town filed a request for $5.1 million in loans to build the system anyway.  Moreover, there is an “urgent” CIP item this year to allocate $700,000 for a pilot program.

We haven’t identified any significant useable land.  We haven’t tested any soil.  We don’t even have a conceptual plan that suggests that a significant portion our effluent disposal needs can be met with this technology.

Next time you flush your toilet, don’t let these things get you down.  Just think “Drip Irrigation”.  It’s the future.

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