Letter to Editor: Wastewater plant support

To the Editor:

The Southwest Harbor Water & Sewer District would appreciate the support of Southwest Harbor citizens for Article 43 of the upcoming Town Meeting on May 6.

This article is requesting reaffirmation from the town’s people for their longstanding support for wastewater and sewer projects and improvements.

In 1974, tax dollars were used to construct the original wastewater plant. This scenario continued with the upgrades to the three sewer lift stations, treatment plant upgrades and sewer line replacement.

In 2010, an article was passed giving the Board of Selectmen guidance in supporting this tradition for future projects. With the formation of the district, we carried forward paying the loans the Sewer Department was paying, but no major projects.

The town is now in need of a major rehabilitation of the wastewater treatment facility. The estimated cost of this upgrade is $15.65 million. With a lot of work on the district’s part we were able to obtain a grant for $7.65 million of this cost.

The original 1974 plant is 45 years old, with a usefulness lifespan of 25 years, allowing the town an additional 20 years of its use. If the district was not able to continue to receive the previously gracious assistance from the town, as the utility departments had in the past, you would have to raise our sewer rates by up to 62 percent.

The project will include the addition of items that were commonplace in plants built in the 1980s such as grit removal chambers, sludge digesters and separate sludge pumps.

It will also upgrade our clarifiers to a standard configuration (circular rather than rectangular), re-piping the plant to better manage the treatment process, installing energy efficient motors, safety upgrades and relocating the contact chambers for better disinfection. These improvements will help us save money in electrical and chemical costs and allow us better opportunities in keeping operational costs down.

The wastewater plant helps the community as a whole in many ways, it keeps our harbor and ocean water healthy, it allows us to have businesses downtown, supports the medical centers, schools, town bath houses, municipal buildings and a large majority of our year-round residents.

Without these upgrades of new technologies and processes, it would be much more difficult to continue to guarantee a quality discharge into our harbor and meeting the new parameters that are being set by federal and state regulations. This is a project that directly or indirectly impacts all of us who live or visit here, whether for a week, or year-round.

The district trustees hopes for your support in our endeavors to bettering the environment and the quality of life in our community.

Lee Worcester,

Ralph Dunbar,

Justin VanDongen,

Greg Tillman, and

Dan Farley, trustees

and Steven Kenney, District Manager

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