Well, Well, Well: The Installation of a New Septic System on MacDuffie’s Campus

Alison Jackson, Assistant Copy Editor

The MacDuffie School recently hired a waste management construction company to build a new septic system for the campus, a long-awaited project that existed merely on paper for several years but is now expected to be finalized in the spring of 2018.

According to Head of School Steve Griffin, the building project has been in the works since MacDuffie moved to its current location in Granby, Massachusetts due to its increase in enrollment.

“In 2011, when we arrived, we went over 200 students, and as soon as we did, given our day and boarding mix… our calculated demand for water went above 10,000 gallons per day,” Griffin said, adding, “By doing so, we moved from having… a need for a regular septic treatment… to needing a… bigger and better water supply, and… a bigger and better way to dispose of it.”

Business Manager Andrew Parker described that the main building of this larger septic system will be composed of “a large garden shed, essentially, made out of stone block, with a whole bunch of water treatment equipment and a couple of holding tanks inside it.” The structure is being built adjacent to the Little Theater’s storage barn, behind MacDuffie’s main building.

As the project is projected to near a close around either April or May of 2018, Griffin included that while the boarding department will be lacking running water between the “changeover between the old water system and [the] new water system,” the administration plans to schedule a trip for boarders in conjunction with this event to prevent inconvenience. Griffin listed Patriot’s Day weekend (in April) as a possible time to activate the new well system.

The first step towards beginning construction was to contact engineering firms in order to “determine where to best locate… a good source of clean, potable drinking water for the school,” said Parker. He added that firms—namely GZA GeoEnvironmental of Springfield, MA, according to Griffin—assisted in establishing a location for additional elements of the project as well, including a “layout for all of the mechanical and pumping equipment and the lines associated with getting that source of water from the source—the drilled wellhead source—to the campus.”

While the campus had adequate interior “infrastructure” prior to the consultation, Parker explained, the engineering firms were responsible for detecting any “major obstacles,” such as “shale or bedrock” that prevented the water being supplied by the source from reaching the buildings.

At this point in the process, Griffin explained, the Department of Environmental Protection began to make suggestions pertaining to the layout of the project. Griffin described a particular change made based on a recommendation from the DEP that involved the addition of a second 5,000-gallon holding tank in the system to act as a backup for the original tank outlined in the building plans; a change made “so that we [MacDuffie] can add whatever we need to in order to make the water… perfect.”

After the DEP approved the finalized proposal towards the end of June 2017, Griffin explained, the project was brought to be bid on approximately two months later, a process in which MacDuffie chose a company to construct the well system. After receiving “three competitive bids,” Griffin said, Pride Environmental of Taunton, Massachusetts—the “best bid”—was chosen by the end of September and MacDuffie immediately made arrangements with the company to break ground.

Griffin added that at the beginning of the month of November, the construction commenced, as “[the school and Pride Environmental] hammered out the fine details and they [Pride Environmental] started working.”