Pine Lake RV Resort On-Site Wastewater Solution – Sturbridge, Massachusetts
The Pine Lake RV Resort in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, emerged as a response to the changing landscape of vacation preferences, which led to a decline in family campgrounds due to societal shifts and the impact of COVID. The resort was envisioned as a luxurious and high-end camping experience, appealing to families seeking resort-style amenities and a concept known as “glamping.”
Previously, the site was the Yogi Bear Campground, using on-site septic systems that posed environmental concerns. Compliance issues with wastewater regulations led to the need for a privately funded and owned decentralized wastewater treatment facility.
With careful planning, the resort now offers a wide range of amenities, including swimming pools, indoor cinemas, and dog parks, enhancing guests’ experiences. However, the resort faced unique challenges in finding a responsible wastewater solution to comply with regulations and protect the valuable natural resource surrounding it.
Unique solutions required
Anticipating that this location will once again draw large crowds, a responsible wastewater solution had to be found to protect this valuable resource.
The main challenge faced by the Pine Lake RV Resort project was the pollution caused by the old on-site septic systems. These systems led to contamination of Pine Lake, its associated wetlands, and the local stream. Consequently, in 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental
Protection (MassDEP) declared the site non-compliant with wastewater regulations due to the aggregate flow exceeding 10,000 gallons per day (37,854 liters per day), and the septic systems negatively impacting groundwater quality. To rectify the compliance issues, the previous owner of the park was required to either upgrade the on-site disposal systems or connect to the town sewer, and they agreed to do so under the administrative consent order (ACO) with MassDEP. However, extending sewers to the area was an untenable solution due to limited benefits to the town’s residents and the high cost to taxpayers.
As a result, the Yogi Bear Campground had to shut down because it could not meet MassDEP’s requirements. Nonetheless, the new ownership group saw potential in the site’s business model of high-end glamping and decided to invest in a privately funded and owned decentralized wastewater treatment facility (WRRF) to comply with regulations and revitalize the campground.
The solution for the Pine Lake RV Resort involved using FRMA’s Amphidrome® decentralized wastewater treatment system. The design was based on a comprehensive assessment of the site’s geology and hydrogeology, ensuring that the proposed discharge location would not impact Pine Lake and its wetlands. This allowed for the restoration of the impaired water body after discontinuing septic system discharges.
The sewage collection system included custom RV sewer connection stations and permanent gravity-building sewer connections, catering to the diverse needs of RVs and trailer cottages. The Amphidrome® utilizes advanced aerobic and anoxic biological processes with filtration, producing high-quality treated effluent. The system effectively handles fluctuating seasonal flows, maintaining a biological population even during cold weather and low flow conditions. Additionally, the treatment system addresses total nitrogen removal to meet stringent regulations.
Through the MassDEP groundwater discharge permit program, the project followed a well-defined process for site evaluations, design, permitting, and operation, making a decentralized WRRF like the Amphidrome system a cost-effective and feasible solution for rural developments like campground sites.
Overall, the scientific and engineering analysis ensured that the Pine Lake RV Resort’s wastewater management system complied with regulations, protected the environment, and provided a sustainable and responsible solution for the success of the resort.