Deerfield enters pact with Amherst to cover wastewater plant operations

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Staff Writer
Published: 2/24/2022 6:21:51 PM
Modified: 2/24/2022 6:21:29 PM

DEERFIELD — While it is in the process of finding a chief operator for its wastewater treatment plant, the Select Board entered into an agreement with Amherst on Wednesday to maintain operations at Deerfield’s two plants.

The agreement states the towns will “work together throughout the life of this agreement to provide support to each other when requested” for wastewater treatment plant operations and emergencies. The agreement will remain in effect until Dec. 31 or until it is terminated by either town with a 45-day notice.

While both towns may request help, Deerfield Select Board member Trevor McDaniel said Deerfield will primarily be the one asking for assistance.

“We’re definitely the ones in need right now,” McDaniel said, “but we’d definitely love to help in the future.”

In the agreement, McDaniel said Amherst would help cover “all aspects of the work” at both the South Deerfield and Old Deerfield plants as needed, which covers everything from reporting data to the Department of Environmental Protection, clearing out pipes and the “day-to-day stuff of trying to cover two different plants that are very old and one under a lot of construction.”

Each town will reimburse the other as needed for each employee’s hourly rate with a two-hour minimum charge for routine work and a three-hour minimum charge for emergency or off-the-clock work, according to the agreement. A 10% administration fee will also be added to all employee rates charged.

The memorandum, McDaniel said, is based on a similar one instituted between Amherst and the South Deerfield Water Supply District when it was going through a leadership transition.

Deerfield has been without a chief wastewater operator since the beginning of the year when Keith Milne retired, and its search for a replacement has yet to bear fruit. In the interim, the town has used per diem contractors.

“It’s tough,” McDaniel said, adding that the town is “struggling,” much like many other towns in the same situation. “It’s just really tough to find anybody that wants to be in that industry.”

Noting the difficulty of working in the wastewater treatment field — management, mechanical and chemistry skills are all required — he said most workers with experience are “aging out and retiring.” Nonetheless, he said, “I have my fingers crossed we’ll find somebody.”


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