Sewer plant deficiencies discovered



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — An engineering audit of the town’s wastewater treatment plant found “significant issues” with the plant and its operation.

Olver Associates of Winterport conducted the audit of the plant that, along with the town’s water treatment plant, was transferred to the newly formed quasi-municipal Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District on Jan. 1.

The seven-page report by Annaleis Hafford, vice-president of Olver Associates, describes numerous problems regarding safety, recordkeeping and testing procedures.

Selectmen learned of the results of the study from Town Manager Don Lagrange at a Jan. 12 meeting. During his manager’s report, Lagrange indicated that the “sewer plant had not been properly operated for some time.”

“I found it very sobering how many things were not being done properly,” said Selectman Lydia Goetze.

These types of problems, Lagrange assured selectmen, are a thing of the past. Town officials hope that, under control of the water and sewer district, the two utilities would be run more efficiently and intelligently due to the oversight of a three-member board of trustees and the day-to-day management by Supervisor Steve Kenney.

Lagrange, who also is a district trustee, said this week that Kenney, who was hired in October, has been correcting issues at the plant all along. The remaining problems will be corrected in a timely manner, and “the plant will be run according to regulations,” he added.

Many of the safety issues identified by Hafford involved hazards that could lead to someone tripping or falling. Protective grates or netting are missing in several locations. Other concerns included the fact there was no documentation, as required, of safety training, and that fire extinguisher inspections were being done annually and not monthly.

Employees at the plant are required to make tests periodically to ensure that the treated outflow is safe for release into Southwest Harbor. These tests and results must be recorded properly by the operators. Hafford found problems with the chemicals used in testing and how results were being kept.

Several chemicals for performing tests were found to be past their expiration date. In some cases, these expiration dates had been changed to make them seem current, Hafford reported.

Hafford found certain tests were not being conducted. The results of some of the tests that were conducted were not recorded properly on the forms for the purpose. In some cases, the blank forms were unavailable, Hafford noted.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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