Sewer plant requires $658,000 in repairs

SOUTHWEST HARBOR – The 40-year-old wastewater treatment plant here needs about $658,000 in repairs, according to a recent engineering study of the facility.

Lincoln/Haney Engineering Associates Inc. of Brunswick released their report on the condition of the plant on Dec. 5. The engineers found that many of the structural components of the plant have deteriorated and estimate that about $538,000 in work is needed to repair the damage.

The concrete roof of the plant also needs repair. Independent Roof Services Inc. of Pownal recommends spending $120,000 to replace the entire roof system, bringing the total to $658,000. Town Manager Don Lagrange said the roof was redone once but didn’t know when the fix was made.

The plant has been in operation since 1976. Most of the “apparent deterioration” is in the aeration section of the plant, where humidity and chlorine have contributed to the deterioration of exposed steel, according to the report.

The engineers predict that the repairs would add another 20 years to the useful life of the plant, according to Lagrange.

On Jan. 1, 2016, ownership of the wastewater treatment plant and water treatment plant were transferred from the town to the newly-formed Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District.

The nonprofit Maine Rural Water Association, which provides technical help to water and wastewater utilities, is working with the district and the town to identify sources of bonds and grants to help pay for the work, Lagrange said. There is $161,300 available in a water-sewer infrastructure capital improvement fund that, if selectmen approve, would be used for replacing the roof, Lagrange said.

Lagrange said one of the first steps in indentifying sources of funding is for a survey to be conducted on income levels in the town. This information will help determine which grant programs are the best fit for the district and town, he explained.

“We’re hoping to have the [grant] applications put in by the end of the year,” Lagrange said.

In August, an inspection of the wastewater treatment plant by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) identified numerous issues of concern, including improper testing procedures, missing records of test results and an alarm at a pump station that was inoperative. The report is highly critical of how the plant has been operated and notes that several of these issues are violations of the permit issued for the plant.

District and town officials have said that many of these issues have been corrected, however it still is not known if the district will face any fines as a result of the DEP’s findings.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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