A Plant Grows Near the 'Burgh

Advanced Environmental Excavation Inc. Cleans Up Taunton’s Mill River

Thu January 10, 2008 - Northeast Edition
James A. Merolla



It’s just a small section of the river. But for now, it’s a clean section.

It’s the smallest of companies, but it did a very big thing.

Fighting heat, humidity and several tons of garbage buried in the mud, Jim Brophy, owner of Advanced Environmental Excavation Inc. of Taunton, Mass., brought his excavators and a few volunteers — almost his entire staff of three employees — and cleaned up a section of the Mill River.

Acting with the approval of the city’s Conservation Department and Taunton Mayor Charles Crowley, Brophy emptied out a portion of the Mill River at the intersection of Morton Street and Chandler Avenue.

His machines and handful of manpower removed more than two 10-wheeler loads of debris, which included some startling refuge — shopping carts, tires, air conditioners, lawn mowers, yard waste and one even more startling discard.

“During the cleanup, we did not find any snakes, but there was some concern over a 12-gauge shotgun,” Brophy said.

Brophy, along with his son Bill, employee Ray Hebert and volunteer Nick Sisson dedicated a particularly hot and humid Saturday to the project in an effort to help Taunton clean up its rivers while the water was at a low level due to arid late-summer conditions.

According to several neighbors near the river, people just drive up to this spot at night with pickup trucks full of waste and shovel it out the back right over the bank of the river.

Brophy’s Effort

Crowley said of Brophy’s effort, “Jim Brophy has been a fine citizen of Taunton by stepping forward and volunteering his equipment and his staff to perform a much-needed cleaning of Mill River. His concern for the environment and for helping the city have always been paramount in his mind and we applaud his efforts.”

“He did a great thing. He stepped up,” added Taunton Conservation Agent Michelle Restino.

“Here’s this opportunity, created because the river was so low, to clean up things we can’t clean up when the river is at normal levels. He got his crew in this one section that was worse than it looked. They kept digging down and digging down and they got a lot of stuff out — grocery carts and all kinds of stuff that had been thrown out over the years. It was a small area, but it’s a small area that is clean [now].”

Brophy recalled a time when the Mill River “was pristine and chock full of herring and even a few sea run trout.” Even though he makes his living digging into the land, he is an avid outdoorsman with grave concern for the environment. Brophy feels that if the river cleanup can be completed, and a proposed fish ladder constructed, the herring can be reintroduced.

“It is very important to me personally to help with the cleanup of Taunton’s waterways. I grew up in this area and have hunted, fished and canoed all of the waterways in this region, which means that at one time all of these waterways were accessible and very much alive and teeming with wildlife,” said Brophy.

“The way that the rivers are now, you would be hard pressed to even fit a canoe into one of them, because of overgrowth from lack of maintenance, use and pollution. We tend to take the waterways for granted in this area because they are so abundant. If we lived in an area that had large tracts of land with absolutely no water resource at all, such as areas in the western part of the country, we would see that very little thrives without that resource,” he continued.

By volunteering his small company’s equipment and manpower, Brophy hoped to shine some light on the problem of illegal dumping and hopes that more people will report such dumping, as well as do their share of pitching in to help clean up this precious resource while they have the chance.

“I’d love to see more [contractors] do this and have more [of them] offer to do it,” added Restino. “They certainly would be welcome. I know it’s a tremendous amount of time and a lot of money they aren’t getting but that’s a tremendous donation to the city.”

Company Founded in 1998

Brophy’s company, Advanced Environmental Excavation Inc., was incorporated in 1998 by then-president Paul Rocha.

“I was hired by Mr. Rocha at that time to be the foreman of operations, as well as acting consultant for the startup. In 2000, Mr. Rocha resigned and I purchased the corporation,” said Brophy.

His lifetime of this kind of work is what led him to buying his own business.

“I began operating heavy equipment during my youth, working for a large residential developer in Easton, Mass., from the time I was 15 until my early 20s. I left the industry full time to open a restaurant, which I operated for 18 years and did excavation part time during those years. In 1997, I sold the restaurant and went back into excavation full time.

“I truly enjoy this industry and working with the local boards of health to install quality septic systems in a timely manner and still offering this to consumers at a fair cost to them,” added Brophy.

“Our company is here for the long run, and we are not interested in making a fast living. We want to be doing this for years to come, and if we treat our clients fairly, and respond to their needs as best we can, then we will be remembered that way and be referred to their friends and associates.”

Brophy’s tight group of employees consists of himself (working manager and president), heavy equipment operator Ray Hebert, CDL driver Kenneth Horton and internal support person, Brophy’s wife, Kelley.

“We are all also ready and willing to switch hats when the situation mandates,” said Brophy.

Specializing in Title 5 Septic Systems

Advanced Environmental Excavation Inc. focuses primarily on Massachusetts Title 5 septic systems for residential properties. Massachusetts Title 5 Law went into effect in 1988 and requires that, in an effort to protect the environment from septic pollution, all properties with a private septic system pass an inspection test upon the sale of said property.

“The requirements that a new construction property must meet today are far different from what they were 15 years ago. The Title 5 rules are more stringent. Therefore, there are fewer lots that would be considered appropriate for construction in comparison,” added Brophy.

“The code changes also affect existing properties,” Brophy continued, “which really cannot be denied septic systems, even if it is difficult to get a property to meet today’s criteria. If a property has typical situations [such as a high water table or a very small lot that does not afford offset requirements] that were acceptable in the past, it may now be considered nonconforming and need variances for approvals. This also opens the door to using alternative systems, such as the Jet System, and the Presby, which have been researched and developed to protect the environment even on properties that would not meet up to today’s requirements.”

Although the company specializes in Title 5 septic systems installation and repairs they also can assist clients with heavy equipment needs. It stocks excavators, backhoes, a skid steer, bulldozer, a 10-wheeler dump truck and one-ton dump trucks.

Brophy is licensed to install septic systems in 26 towns throughout Southeastern Massachusetts. Each town has its own set of standards and requirements above Massachusetts Title 5 code.

“It is part of my job to stay on top of the criteria for each town,” he added.

He also is a licensed Title 5 system inspector.

“However, I typically refer the inspections to a local inspector, Robert Soares Jr, of Soares Enterprises Inc., who specializes in that aspect of the business. I do this because it could be construed as a conflict of interest for the contractor who inspects, and possibly fails, a system to also be the contractor that will be repairing the system.”

Advanced Environmental Excavation also tries to take the entire burden off its clients by handling everything for them, including the engineering, which is a requirement in Massachusetts before a septic system can be repaired. It takes care of the paperwork, the meetings, the applications, the scheduling, the installation of the system and the final landscaping.

Septic Systems Eco-Saving

Company projects have included pond reclamation, removing a dam, lowering nitrogen levels and pond cleanup. Brophy’s job reflects his environmental care.

“All Massachusetts Title 5 septic systems are not only eco-friendly, but also eco-saving. The septic systems that we install protect our environment by preventing septic waste from getting into the waterways. These systems are designed so that any effluent that leaves a home is processed within the septic system and returns to the waterways as purified, not polluted, water,” said Brophy.

“Most of the systems that we are repairing/replacing are no longer providing protection to the waterways,” Brophy went on. “The biggest thing that we can educate our clients, and everyone who has a septic system, about is that this is by far the most important thing that one can do to protect our environment. Think about a local beach closure due to E-coli in the summertime. E-coli comes from septic systems. If all of the septic systems abutting that body of water were up to code, they would not be leaking septic waste into the water, therefore, there would be no beach closure.”

Brophy’s company is currently working on scheduling spring classes for its clients to teach them about how to take the best possible care of their systems in order to increase the longevity of the systems.

“Our goal will be to connect peoples’ minds to their septic systems. Most of us don’t even think about this huge, very important, but very invisible, system in our yards. Yet, without it, we would not be able to even live in our homes.” CEG