HAMMONTON – Hammonton Town Council has the public support needed to move forward with attempts to irrigate playing fields at the Boyer Avenue/Seventh Street Recreation Area with treated and disinfected sewer wastewater, parents and youth sports officials told the board.

The reuse would help recharge the aquifer, save money on irrigation costs and avoid a future sewer moratorium, officials said during a public discussion of the issue Monday.

The state Department of Environmental Protection and the Pinelands Commission must give approval to the plans before construction can begin on underground drip irrigation piping, said Councilman Mickey Pullia, who heads the council's Water and Sewer Committee.

"We're hoping to start (construction) over the winter," Pullia said.

Experts on reuse of wastewater presented details on how the plan would work.

"The water will be fully below ground. There will be no human contact with the water (on three existing and two proposed playing fields)," said Raymond Ferrara, a vice president at Kleinfelder/Omni consultants of Princeton, Mercer County.

But he said the water would not present a hazard, even if there was human contact with it, because it is cleaned to such a high degree.

Surface drip irrigation will disperse water in a 14-acre wooded area, he said.

The town must do something by Dec. 31 to meet state Department of Environmental Protection requirements that it stop sending treated wastewater into Hammonton Creek, said Mayor Steve DiDonato, or face another sewer moratorium. That would bring development, and even renovation in town, to a halt, he said.

The recreation fields are located next to the Boyer Avenue wastewater treatment facility, which consists of a storage lagoon and five trenches. The water is treated to a high degree at the facility and disinfected with ultraviolet radiation, Ferrara said.

The ground's moisture would be constantly monitored and water would only be released when the ground could handle it, Ferrara said.

He said 24 utilities in New Jersey, and many towns and attractions in Florida, such as Disney World, are already reusing most of their wastewater for landscape and golf course irrigation, and street and vehicle cleaning.

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