The Beacon: Complex to Get Septic System

After receiving calls from residents upset about apartment conditions, state Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton, said he vowed to help bring clean and safe water to Acton residents. Eldridge said the septic system upgrades would help ensure clean and safe water.

By Steve Vittorioso
August 7, 2009

Acton, Mass. – After nearly two years of litigation between the state and Strawberry Hill Apartments, a settlement has been reached to construct a new septic system to help produce clean and safe water.

Nick Keramaris, attorney for the apartments that his father George Keramaris owns, said the only option for the Strawberry Hill Road complex is to build a new septic system with recirculating sand filters to help alleviate some contaminants that had previously infected the private wells. Assuring quality water at the complex, Nick Keramaris said he expects installation to cost about $300,000, with completion slated for year’s end.

“I think it was what we hoped for,” Nick Keramaris said of the settlement’s outcome. “I think it’s just in everybody’s interest to protect the environment and in everybody’s interest to make our business viable.”

In April 2007, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a unilateral order requiring the 71-unit complex to connect to the Acton Water District because the closeness of the septic system posed dangers to the wells. The order set a Nov. 1, 2007, deadline to hook up to town water, but the Keramarises filed an appeal the following month in Lowell District Court.

Since 2000, the property has received multiple violations for failing to monitor bacteria levels in wells and in July 2008, DEP advised all residents to boil their water before drinking or cooking because of total coliform outbreaks. Total coliforms are a wide-ranging group of bacteria, most of which are harmless to humans, but are also considered useful indicators of possible contamination in drinking water supplies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

In August 2008, officials lifted the boil water order after the owners installed a temporary treatment system to chlorinate water.

“It’s been quiet since we’ve been following the treatment,” said landlord George Keramaris’ son, John Keramaris.

After receiving calls from residents upset about apartment conditions, state Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton, said he vowed to help bring clean and safe water to Acton residents. Eldridge said the septic system upgrades would help ensure clean and safe water.

“The well where people get their water from is too close to the septic system and therefore there is a risk for contamination, which is very disturbing,” Eldridge said, noting he would have preferred the owners to hook up to the Acton Water District. He also said an independent consultant would monitor bacteria levels. “I’m happy with the agreement. That’s the next best thing the parties could have agreed to.”

Despite the settlement and violation, Nick Keramaris said the complex’s water remains safe.

“It’s very good quality water,” Nick Keramaris said. “Historically, it’s better water than the Acton district. We’ll be sure that the water stays clean.”

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