TREMONT — The town, faced with an end to a state program providing bottled water to eight households and businesses with contaminated wells, is seeking bids for systems to remove chemicals leaching from the town’s closed landfill.
The total cost, according to an estimate by G.F. Johnston and Associates of Southwest Harbor, would be $50,000, which includes the design, construction and three years of maintenance on water purification systems for the eight entities now receiving bottled water. The DEP notified Tremont in June that the town would no longer be reimbursed for supplying the water as of Dec. 31.
The DEP has been urging a more permanent solution to the well contamination. As it does with the bottled water, the department will reimburse the town for 90 percent of cost of the purification systems, which includes engineering fees. As a result, the DEP would pay $45,000 and the town, $5,000.
According to Town Manager Dana Reed, the town has almost $4,000 in a landfill remediation reserve account that could be applied to the cost. The remaining $1,000 is available from a contingency account.
Johnston told selectmen on Tuesday that each system must be designed individually to meet the needs of the household or business. He said the DEP is expected to review the bid specifications next week and for the bids to go out on Jan. 17. Selectmen most likely would award the bid on Feb. 21.
Selectmen agreed to the proposal with little discussion. A motion to authorize the town manager to seek bids from a list of up to five qualified bidders carried in a 5-0 vote.
Because of the small number of companies capable of designing and installing these types of systems, the decision was made limit the bidders to five.
The eight systems are to be installed at Gordius Garage, McKinley Market, the site of the former Cap’n Nemo’s restaurant and at the homes of Selectman Chris Eaton, Susan Higgins, John Horton, Tony Menzietti and David Trust. The DEP has determined that contaminants in wells at each of those locations are consistent with those that leach from landfills.
The town’s nearby landfill was closed in 1996. In 2008, the DEP began testing 14 wells in the Harbor Drive and Flat Iron Road neighborhood for contaminants. The water from the eight wells was found to contain one or more contaminants that exceed maximum allowable levels. These contaminants include manganese, iron and arsenic.
In June, Richard Behr of the DEP told selectmen that the department still believes that a public water supply is the best solution to water quality issues in the area around the landfill. The DEP first made this recommendation in 2013. The alternative would be to install treatment systems in the homes and businesses, he said.