Pond part of plan to fix water problem

NASHUA – The golf course at the Nashua Country Club in the city’s south end would play a central role in a storm water management and control plan being developed by the Division of Public Works, officials said at a meeting for residents at Sunset Heights Elementary School on Tuesday night.

According to Amy Gill of the city engineer’s office, the plan would be part of the federally-mandated sewer separation project ordered by environmental regulators in 1999 that requires sewage to be separated from storm water to reduce discharges into the Merrimack River.

Pollution problems exist now because sewage and storm water mix together and overflow from old sewer lines into the river during heavy rain events, Gill said.

The plan the city is developing now would use a new line on the downward slope of the country club’s 16th hole off South Main Street to collect storm water in a detention pond and use adjacent wetlands to treat the water before it runs into a stream on the south part of the course and then into the river, Gill said.

The city has hired The Louis Berger Group, a Manchester engineering firm, to design the project. It would cost between $2 million and $3 million and require a recommendation from _the Conservation Commission and approvals from the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Planning Board, Gill said.

The project is still in its conceptual stages and is subject to changes, project manager Lee Allen of the Berger Group said.

The detention pond would cover about a half acre and be located on the left side of the fairway, Allen told about a dozen residents who showed up for the meeting.

Existing wetlands on the right side of the fairway near Anders lane and Farmington Road would be enhanced and expanded with the planting of new vegetation to provide a natural filter for storm water, said Peg McBrien, a wetlands specialist with the engineering firm.

The expanded wetlands the firm wants to create would cover about three-quarters of an acre and would help solve long-standing drainage problems on the fairway.

Permits from the state Department of Environmental Services and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be needed along with the approval of city boards for the work to proceed. If all approvals are secured by the end of the summer, work would begin next September and be completed in March of 2005, Allen said.

If officials encounter delays in the permitting process, he said, the project would be put off for a year.

Craig Wood, manager of environmental services for the Berger Group, said both the country club and his firm have engaged golf course architects to evaluate the plan, which he said would be enhance both the course and abutting properties.

One neighbor who wouldn’t give his name said he wasn’t pleased by the prospect of “having a wetland jammed down our throats,’’ but the engineers said the project would only provide abutters with an added buffer between their properties and the golf course.

Another neighbor who didn’t want her name used said her home on Taylor Street across from the 13th hole is on a well and a septic system and she was worried about chemicals contaminating her well. That wouldn’t happen, officials said, because what they are proposing is essentially the enhancement of a natural filtration process that doesn’t involve chemicals or blasting.

Greg Cincotta, general manager of the country club, said the club has not yet taken a position on the project because the plans for it have not been finalized. When that happens, he said, it will be up to the club’s membership to decide on whether to endorse the project.