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Hammonton Wastewater Assessment

Hammonton CreekIn cooperation with the Pinelands Commission, the Town of Hammonton has implemented a comprehensive strategy to eliminate effluent discharges from the Town's wastewater treatment plant to Hammonton Creek, a tributary of the Mullica River. As a result of these actions, there has been no effluent discharge to the Creek since March 2015.

In the early 1990s, Hammonton built a modern wastewater treatment plant to replace the Town's aging facility that did not comply with Pinelands and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (NJDEP) water quality standards. The new plant was designed to improve effluent quality and to eliminate the pre-existing wastewater discharge to Hammonton Creek. The modern treatment plant incorporates nitrogen reduction processes and is coupled with five wastewater infiltration lagoons that were designed to infiltrate a minimum of 1.6 million gallons per day. In its second year of operation, the infiltration facility failed to function as designed and the Town found it necessary to continue to discharge treated effluent to Hammonton Creek, prolonging the violation of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

The Pinelands Commission and Town initiated action to resolve the creek discharge violation by retaining the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to determine the cause of the infiltration lagoon failure. In addition, Hammonton hired an engineering consultant to identify specific measures the Town could employ to better manage its wastewater. The USGS issued its investigation report in 2010. The USGS attributed impeded effluent infiltration to previously unrecognized hydraulically restrictive soil conditions that underlie the infiltration lagoons. The Town's engineering consultant finalized its Optimization Plan in early 2014.

The Pinelands Commission approved the town's Optimization Plan in April 2014. The Plan proposed the construction of a wastewater-supplied overland drip irrigation system on 26.47 acres of wooded lands in the vicinity of the infiltration lagoons and the beneficial reuse of treated wastewater on 7.47 acres of turf fields at the nearby municipal recreation complex. The turf fields are irrigated using a subsurface drip irrigation system and treated effluent now replaces potable water that was previously used to irrigate the fields. The Plan also incorporates water conservation measures to reduce flow to the plant and the identification and rehabilitation of problematic components of the wastewater collection system. Older sections of the collection system were known to introduce extraneous flow to the plant through inflow and infiltration. Importantly, the Plan and the Commission's approval provide that no discharge of treated wastewater to Hammonton Creek may occur, except in the case of an emergency.

The Town completed the installation of 26.47 acres of overland drip irrigation and a total of 7.47 acres of subsurface drip irrigation infrastructure in late 2015. Further, the town has adopted a potable water rate system that encourages water conservation and is continuing its efforts to eliminate inflow and infiltration to its wastewater collection system.

Collectively, these efforts have resulted in water quality improvements to Hammonton Creek and have reduced potable water withdrawals from the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer.