West Dummerston and Westminster West Selected for Village Sanitation Pilot Study

On May 25th, community representatives from both West Dummerston and Westminster West submitted, on behalf of participating homeowners in each of their respective neighborhoods, a Letter of Interest to the Windham Regional Commission and the Rich Earth Institute for the Village Sanitation Pilot Study (VSPS). The VSPS is an innovative partnership project that provides a feasibility study to a community that is challenged by septic or wastewater limitations in our historic community centers. The feasibility study will provide a pathway for innovative wastewater solutions which can help address aging septic systems that may impact ground and/or surface water quality, human health, and the financial ability of home and business owners to properly maintain and update these on-site systems.

While the original intent of this program was to work with only one community, the WRC and Rich Earth received two very strong Letters of Interest that made this decision to choose either Westminster West or West Dummerston difficult. Both recruited an impressive number of interested and participating homeowners, sought approval from their respective Planning Commission and Selectboard, and had provided a compelling narrative for why their community would be a good candidate to receive this technical assistance.

So, Windham Regional and the Rich Earth Institute are seeking ways to garner grant funds to support their staff in working with both communities. Several grant applications have already been submitted, and the partners expect to have a clearer picture of their own working capacity by the end of the summer, 2018.

Although working with both neighborhoods is ideal for the VSPS (and, may be a stronger case study overall), the West Dummerston neighborhood group will receive priority and a secured place in the study. This is because there is a clear and stated need for this kind of planning support in the 2018 Dummerston Town Plan, which states that it will, "Support collaborative wastewater planning efforts," and "Explore funding for a wastewater capacity study in West Dummerston Village." Neighbors in Westminster West have also demonstrated a strong interest in this program, and a clear ability to mobilize homeowners and organize around this community-building effort. They were able to include a number of civic buildings into their list of participating landowners, and have the support of the Living Earth Action Coalition.

The WRC is excited to take the lead in the state and partner with local expertise in these systems to take on challenges facing our communities. Being a part of the VSPS would bring multiple benefits to those who support this work. The Towns will receive village center planning related to wastewater systems, an understanding of wastewater management issues confronting home and business owners, and first steps towards the development of a larger wastewater feasibility study. Participating neighbors will receive free consultation regarding viable alternatives to conventional septic systems and human waste management, access to professional and scientific resources related to wastewater management, and an ability to participate in scientific research about our wastewater systems on a neighborhood scale.

For more information about the Village Sanitation Pilot Study, contact staff Planner Emily Davis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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