Vassalboro Conservation Commission minutes January 14, 2021

Patricia King, Betsy Poulin, Chris French, David Jenney, Peggy Horner, Steve Jones, Holly Weidner (chair),

Guest : Gabe Gauvin from KVCOG

1) Organic waste composting: Chris and Betsy presented to the select board the concept of VCC developing a plan for helping increase composting to reduce solid waste going to landfills. Mary Sabin reported that she found that our MRC contract required town to have a 1300 ton minimum which would prevent V from reducing our solid waste below that amount or pay a penalty. V has been averaging 1300-1500 tons in the past few years.

a. Background: V. is a member of MRC and had taken our solid wastes to PERC until MRC signed a contract with Fiberight when PERC was closing. Fiberight had a delayed opening and then shut down operations in May 2020 for financial reasons. Vassalboro’s zero sort solid waste goes to the private land fill at Norridgewock. Some things are still diverted from the stream: cardboard, metals, electronics, waste oil, yard waste, construction materials, to name a few.
b. Gabe shared info from the KVCOG project: Food waste: the US rate of food waste is 40%. Most management of this waste that is managed or diverted is from large scale sources like hospitals, industry, or school level. But 60% of food waste is residential or small scale source . For diversion at the small scale source to be sustained, it would need to be inclusive and at a net zero cost .
c. The George Mitchell Center students studied problem and came up with 6 solutions. One of these solutions was to increase access to consolidated collection (only S.Portland has it started with Garbage to Garden through a grant with kiosks around town); DEP and the Mitchell Center have partnered to look at ways to do create collection in any Maine town. DEP, Mark King, organic waste “guru” for 30 yrs. and Mitchell Center’s, Suzane Lee, Travis Blackner want to pilot the Kennebec Valley area because it is diverse category? including rural and urban waste. They hope to get a calculator tool to show how much able to save based on the amt of food diverted. Community Clusters have been formed and evaluated: Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield, Clinton, Benton; as well as communities including Readfield , Fayette, Winthrop, and others; Some of the towns are considering partnering with a collecting company, or creating a composting program in the town. None of them are part of MRC as far as Gabe knew. EX: Winslow Counsel is looking at collecting at kiosks at different locations that Agricycle will take to Exeter Agrienergy; Winthrop may go with this or taking it to a local farm to compost; :At 10% participation in Waterville, they would break even in tonnage savings. Winslow, 15% participation, then break even .
d. Vassalboro: with MRC it is difficult because of the existing contract. Fiberight would like all organics to create electricity from gas; they may not permit V. to divert organics; they also have a minimum amount of tonnage.
V. would need a Permit for transfer station to have composting area but if V. already has a permit for yard waste, we might be able to have a 5-10% of our yard waste be composting area without needing a different permit.
In Maine, the program for composting figures that a minimum of 15% of total waste is usually food waste;
Vassalboro isn’t a member of KVCOG : but Gabe has a little leeway to work with towns not a member because is under a grant.
e. Questions V. needs to clarify for MRC Contract: Does it say that we can’t divert organics? (Review at Pg. 10 – it appears that need permission of company or MRC). Is there any penalty to Fiberight for having failed to keep their part of the Contract? (it may have gone to MRC and not to the towns). While V. is off line from FR can we trial an organic program?

2) Cash Back fee and dividend: presented to select board 1/7 (online video didn’t work for Holly and Peggy’s mic didn’t work). It appeared that the select board may be more interested in looking at resolution that they can approve to be sent directly to reps than to have a warrant article to take to town meeting (They expressed they prefer to deal with budget items at the town meeting). At least one of the members wasn’t sure that they understood the warrant article and would want clearer? language.
Holly wrote a draft Resolution for the VCC to consider and to present to the board.
Peggy and Holly feel that it is best to have a one –on – one conversation with the board as zooming doesn’t lend itself to hearing from where concerns are coming nor coming to an agreement

Action: Peggy and Holly Will continue to engage one on one with the board and present the resolution at the select meeting Feb 4th.

3) Pool:

At our last meeting , 10 people from Inland Fisheries (John Perry, Army Corp of Engineers, Gene, Jim Foster, Steve, and they said that they thought they would take care of this with no cost to the town; Since then there was some retracting on this position.

Steve found that we may be able to do the streamlined version. Shouldn’t have given the go ahead to fill in the spring because it might affect the wetlands.

There is a long and streamlined permit process . The trout is a long permit and the salmon is a streamlined process.

Plan: Peggy: to talk to DEP (need to check with Paul Mitnik re: contact) ; to see if anything from state of Maine that protects spring and see if DEP thinks spring shouldn’t have been filled in; then DEP would go to Core to work out correcting this (with their funding).

Pool: Reply from Duane “There is no reason that I am aware of why we should not be able to submit a streamlined application that is based on Atlantic salmon habitat at this site, consistent with the streamlined process that I used for the associated culvert replacement project.  The recent spring pool and the culvert are both located in Atlantic salmon habitat. Since no one seems to be able to resolve this inconsistency with me, all I can do is submit a streamlined application, and hope that it might be considered.”

 4) 2020-21 VCC request for funds: last year we didn’t spend our $300.. In previous years, funds have been used for planting costs, trail costs and membership fee to the state CC (we no longer are members). This year the trail committee is no longer under the VCC and has submitted a budget of $500 presumably for trail work.

VCC would like to have the ability to apply for grants where there are matching funds. Would like also to be able to do some larger projects from time to time but not every year.

Action: request $500 that can be rolled over if not used into a VCC fund that can be used for the above type of needs that arise.

5) Next meeting is February 11 at 6:30 by ZOOM
Submitted HGWeidner