January 18, 2022

Bucksport eyes $3M in upgrades to sewer system Project to meet DEP requirements

BUCKSPORT – Town councilors Thursday took the initial steps in what will be an estimated $3 million project to improve the town’s sewer system.

Councilors sent a preliminary proposal for engineering services on the project, including design of the improvements, to the town’s sewer committee for review.

The planned improvements will allow Bucksport to eliminate two combined sewer overflow stations, a measure required by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

When the system was installed in 1986, the DEP required the town to install the CSO stations, which handle combined surface water and sewage overflows from the sewer system during periods of heavy rain.

The department at that time would not fund a treatment plant large enough to handle the combined flowage, according to Town Manager Roger Raymond.

DEP allowed the town to use the CSO stations to discharge the untreated water into the Penobscot River, but also instructed town officials to find a way to discontinue their use, Raymond said.

Since then, the town has worked to separate the surface drain system from the sewer system, but there is still significant infiltration during periods of heavy rain from building drains throughout the town, Raymond said Thursday.

“We’ve done about all we can,” he said.

The planned improvements to the system will include installing a new CSO pump station adjacent to the town’s existing pump station near the Hannaford supermarket and running a new main line about three-quarters of a mile from the new pump station to a new clarifier that will be installed at the existing treatment plant.

Raymond told councilors that he already has begun discussions with two agencies regarding potential funding for the project and indicated that the scope of the initial engineering services could change depending upon the final source or sources of funding.

The Rural Development Agency and the DEP both have funding programs for these types of improvements, he said.

The availability of funding also will determine the start of the project, Raymond said. “We need to find a way to keep the user rates reasonable,” he said.

“We’ve retired quite a bit of debt at the treatment plant in the past year, so we may be able to assume additional debt without a major impact on our users,” he said.

Raymond noted, however, that the town’s user fees already are considered to be below the state average.

The council did not discuss specifics of the engineering proposal, which Raymond said could change significantly as a result of the review by the sewer committee.

No date was set for the committee meeting to review the proposal.

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