Renovations to NHS one step closer

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This artistic rendering shows the plans the renovation of Naugatuck High School. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The renovations to Naugatuck High School passed another hurdle last week and came a little closer to actually beginning.

After a three hour public hearing Aug. 8, the Inland Wetlands Commission approved the plans for the renovation.

Much of the discussion centered on stormwater runoff and the plans for an artificial turf field.

Langan Engineering Senior Associate Chris Cardany discussed how a storm water treatment train will be used to remove the water from the grounds of the high school and the athletic fields.

According to the National Resource Defense Council a treatment train is a “series of [best management practices] or natural features, each designated to treat a different constituent, component, or aspect of runoff, implemented together to maximize pollutant removal effectiveness.”

Cardany said the proposed treatment train for the renovations includes catch basin inlets, deep sumps, and water quality units. Along with the man-made treatment train, there will also be rain gardens and constructed vegetated areas that will slow the flow of water towards the river. The rain gardens are connected to the underground treatment system by a drainage pipe, insuring the gardens will not become standing pools of water.

“The reason [the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] suggests the treatment train approach is because there are several benefits of doing that. You’re not relying on any one system treat everything. If there are bypasses, overflows, or water storm events, you have a series that can treat. They also collectively accumulatively add treatment. So, by the time you get to the last measure, you’re still treating, but the water has already been treated several times,” Cardany said.

The water quality units that Kaestle Boos Associates, the architectural firm working on the renovations, recommends are the Vortechs Stormwater Treatment System.

“These by themselves remove 80 percent TSS, total suspended solids, and that’s really the benchmark for water quality treatment from DEEP,” Cardany said.

One of Vice Chair Joseph Bakstis’ main concerns over the turf field was the fact that the rubber under the artificial turf contains zinc, a heavy metal poison.

“I would be really interested in knowing how you would get rid of that zinc. This is, to me, the crux of this whole thing. How I vote is going to be dependent on what you’re going to do about the zinc that’s coming off that field from that crumb rubber,” Bakstis said.

Cardany explained that what the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recommends for crumb rubber is an infiltration system, which is what the field will have. The other way to remove the zinc was through a good water filtration system.

“We keep coming back to Vortechs being the Cadillac of water treatment units, and the reason we keep doing that is because they provide independent testing,” Cardany said.

These independent studies have shown that the Vortechs units remove 85 percent of the zinc in the water, according to Cardany.

Bakstis was also worried that the Vortechs unit would not provide adequate retention of the water.

Cardany explained that the way the system was set up, it did not rely on retention.

“Retention would not help in that case, it’s really infiltration,” Cardany explained.

In the case of the field, the water would travel through a layer of sand and a layer of gravel before it even begins moving through the man-made filtration system. This helps leach the zinc out of the water as well.

Sperry explained that Kaestle Boos is taking everything that the DEEP wants into consideration. He told the commission that the storm that came through Naugatuck on Aug.1 was a 100-year storm, and the company’s equipment is designed to handle that.

“We clearly exceed what DEEP’s recommendations are,” James Sperry, a landscape architect at Kaestle Boos Associates, said.

Commission Chair Mary Davis said the commission was asking so many questions of the applicants because it was the commission’s charge to take care of the waterways in the borough.

“As a wetlands commission we’re trying to protect the ground water, protect the wetlands, and protect the brook, and, as you can see, our commission has obviously done a lot of homework,” Davis said.

She said, in its research, the commission has come upon a lot of studies that say that the artificial turf is not good for the environment.

Sperry said he had seen studies for and against artificial turf, and that many of the studies could have been backed by companies that had hidden agendas. That is why, in his report to the commission, he only included studies from sources such as DEEP and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ultimately, the commission unanimously approved the plans. Kaestle Boos will now have to go before the Zoning Commission, which will meet on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

The $81 million dollar project is scheduled to begin in March.