ROCKLAND — The Town of Camden filed a lawsuit June 21 in Superior Court against the neighboring town of Rockport seeking $201,590 in unpaid sewer fees plus legal fees, costs and expenses and other damages to be determined by the court.

Camden officials argue in the lawsuit that the Town of Rockport created its own calculations for what it should pay in violation of the interlocal agreement that had served the two towns since 1990.

Rockport’s wastewater is sent to Camden’s wastewater treatment plant, treated and dumped in Camden Harbor.

Camden has long hired a company to bill Rockport for this service. The lawsuit states that Rockport was sent a $75K invoice for the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 and Rockport only paid $9,054 in response. In addition, it failed to make any further payments for the second and third quarters.

“Upon information and belief, the practice of Rockport self-calculating and then underpaying the quarterly invoiced amount, which resulted in the underpayment of $9,054.54, has not occurred in the 30 years that Camden has treated Rockport Sewer Waste…” the suit states.

In March, Camden send a letter demanding payment. The suit states Rockport did not provide a written response.

“Camden relies on timely payments from Rockport to pay for its share of the total operating costs and some capital expenditures of the Treatment Plant which, due to rising costs, is anticipated to be approximately $300,000 in FY 2023…” the court papers continue.

Rockport is also accused of refusing to pay its proportional share of a major $15 million upgrade to the Camden treatment plant.

“The Rockport Select Board has adopted an irrational justification for paying approximately .93 cents per 100 cubic feet of sewage, instead of the current rate of $7.85, based on the flawed premise that since Rockport users do not use ‘the totality of infrastructure’…; this irrational argument ignores the reality that no Camden or Rockport user of the treatment plant uses the totality of the infrastructure, but they all have their sewage processed…” the documents state.

Camden asks the court to order Rockport to pay its bills and its share of the treatment plant renovations and seeks attorneys’ fees and whatever other relief the court sees fit to order.

Rockport officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but in March, Town Manager Jon Duke issued a press release, saying, “That doesn’t sound like cooperation between communities, it sounds like extortion.”

He argued Rockport has raised questions about why the wastewater rate has doubled since 2016 and why Rockport users are billed for Camden’s needs that have no relations to treatment of Rockport’s waste. In each case, the town has received no response from Camden, he argued.

“The only response? Take it or leave it. Or better yet… take it or we will cut the pipe, let wastewater back up and create an environmental and public health disaster of Camden’s own choosing,” the release states.

“Rockport’s residents, like Camden’s, want our harbors and waterways protected but one simply cannot in good faith look at a town that sends an average of 70,000 gallons of waste to Camden’s wastewater plant, which is permitted to process 1,000,000 gallons, and state Rockport is to blame,” the Rockport press release states. “If Camden wants to say that they cannot manage their wastewater collection and must take back the 12.7% of capacity Rockport is allocated in their system, then so be it.”

“…Camden can cut pipes; Rockport wants to find solutions. We remain ready to meet with Camden at their earliest convenience to resolve this matter for the residents of both communities.”