Questions dominate Lincolnville Beach sewer discussion

Federal loan, grants secured to build new $3.35 million wastewater treatment facility
By Susan Mustapich | Jan 11, 2017
Photo by: File photo

Lincolnville — More questions were raised than answered at a Jan. 9 Board of Selectmen meeting about plans to build a new wastewater treatment facility at Lincolnville Beach.

The proposed facility could serve as many as 52 residential and 26 commercial buildings in Lincolnville Beach, and is projected to cost $3.35 million. At issue in particular are questions related to financing and billing, user data, and a business plan.

The system would extend along Route 1, north and south of the beach area, as well as west along Route 173. According to Woodward & Curran engineers, the proposed facility would be "largely underground with only one small controls building located above ground."

While improving wastewater treatment at the beach has been in planning for almost a decade, the Jan. 9 discussion was spurred by a request for up to $29,000 as the town's annual share of amortizing a $1.6 million loan toward the cost of the yet-to-be-built treatment system.

Lincolnville Sewer District trustees and Woodard & Curran, engineers for the project, presented the request to selectmen.

Funding for the system is to come from the $1.6 million Water and Waste Disposal Direct Loan, provisionally awarded in April 2016; a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and an additional $750,000 in grants from other sources.

The $29,000 requested from the town is just over half of the annual payment to amortize the $1.6 million loan at 1.875 percent interest over 40 years, according to a memorandum prepared by Brent M. Bridges of Woodard & Curran.

The sewer district has until March 2017 to satisfy a list of requirements to secure the funding, according to a USDA Letter of Conditions dated March 4, 2016.

Selectman requested more information, including a business plan, financial data, the number of owners who plan to hook up to the system, and supporting documentation, according to Interim Town Administrator Jodi Hanson. She said sewer district trustees were asked if members of the district had approved asking the Board of Selectman for financial support. Another issue arose as to whether town funding would cause district residents and businesses to be double-charged, once through their water and sewer utility payments, and again through their share of taxes to cover the town's annual loan payment.

Selectmen asked sewer district trustees to prepare to respond to these and other questions that residents would ask, as a public vote would be required to obtain town funding.

Current sewer system

Installed in 1991, the existing sewer system at Lincolnville Beach consists of three pump stations situated by the Lobster Pound Restaurant, near the Beach Store, and near McLaughlin's Lobster Shack. The wastewater treatment facility uses an extended aeration activated sludge process to treat wastewater, according to a Jan. 3 memorandum from Woodard & Curran. "Following treatment in the (wastewater facility), an effluent pump station discharges the treated effluent into the Penobscot Bay near the end of the State of Maine Ferry Terminal berthing pen," the memorandum states. "After 25 years of operation, the existing (treatment facility) has reached the end of its useful life."

The existing facility lacks adequate capacity to accommodate its existing users, according to the memorandum, especially during summer months, and historically has exceeded its license limits for permitted flow. "Also in the past, the facility has exceeded the biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids discharge limits" during the summer, the memorandum says, and high-flow during those months also has caused the facility to exceed limits in both fecal coliform and chlorine residual in its effluent.

History

The town's water resources committee established the need for a new sewer system and recommended the town pursue merging the various private sewer systems into one new system, according to town reports.

Lincolnville Beach properties not served by the sewer system had their own septic systems — some with overboard discharge permits — and their own drinking wells. Over the years, some of the septic systems failed, and some of the wells were contaminated by saltwater intrusion.

The inadequate wastewater and water supply systems in Lincolnville Beach are also said to limit business growth in the beach area.

Beginning in 2009, the Lincolnville Board of Selectmen began to discuss drafting legislation to establish the  Lincolnville Sewer District. State legislation created the Lincolnville Sewer District in 2012 at the request of the town of Lincolnville.

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at smustapich@villagesoup.com.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 11, 2017 17:14

Small time America is coming of age! Tourists flock to the Beach area to see simple small time American beauty. Summer tourists fuel the economy. Natives are blessed to enjoy it year round. How to preserve nature and simplicity?



Posted by: Alan Benner | Jan 11, 2017 11:09

I was just reminded by some one that my math doesn't allow for the federal loans and grants. Oh? Where do these federal grants come from? Us, the taxpayers! Also I didn't include the additional cost of interest on the loans.

Putting all that aside, my point is the taxpayers cannot survive government's mandates.



Posted by: Alan Benner | Jan 11, 2017 11:00

I have another question. Does anyone do the math? This article confirms 78 users of the plant. Divide

$3.35 million by 78 "customers" and you get $42,949 apiece, just for the cost of the plant. Let's assume the

plant has a lifetime of 30 years. Operational costs for 30 years are what? another million? Divide $4.35

million by 78, you get $55,7770 apiece.  Seems to me you could possibly spend a lot less by paying for

each customer's needs individually, whether by paying for installation of proper septic systems for those

that have the land for one, or installing holding tanks for those that don't. And then pay for the maintenance

of each for 30 years. Wouldn't that be a whole lot more cost effective????



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