Boothbay Harbor Sewer District received a $200,000 American Rescue Plan Act grant June 1 to design a seawall around its facility for protection against sea level rise. The district was one of four in Lincoln County seeking $200,000 sewer project grants. During the county commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, May 31, Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission recommended approving $200,000 grants to Boothbay Harbor Sewer and Waldoboro Utility districts.
County Planner Emily Rabbe reported Boothbay Harbor Sewer District’s application sought help with engineering costs for the $4.7 million project. In 2017, the district began working on a mitigation plan for sea level rise and storm surge. According to Rabbe, one plan considered moving the plant from its current 27 Sea St. location to higher ground. Instead, district officials pursued upgrading the facility with a seawall and a standby generator, stormwater drainage system improvements and hydraulic modifications for mitigating tidal influence and sea level rise.
ARPA funding pays $200,000 toward the $270,000 the following engineering costs total: preliminary permitting/studies, $120,900; preliminary design, $56,400; and final design, $92,700. Commission Executive Director Mary Ellen Barnes told commissioners the district would pay the other $70,000 from other funding sources. She reported the district is seeking other grants and loans through U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Grant, 2023 Clean Water Revolving Fund Forgiveness and Loan Funding through Maine Department of Environmental Protection and 2023 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants.
BHSD serves 1,275 residential and 320 commercial, industrial and government customers in Boothbay Harbor, Boothbay, and Squirrel and Capitol islands. “LCRPC believes this project is worthwhile because ARPA funds will be leveraged with other dollars, both through sewer district fees and grant opportunities. This is forward thinking and meets ARPA eligibility requirements,” Barnes said.
Waldoboro’s grant provides funding for two projects. The first is for replacing one of two pumps and related electrical gear at the Main Street pump station. The duplex station houses two pumps. One is the system’s main pump. The second serves as a backup. “Failure of the new pump creates a situation of relying on a 20-year-old backup,” Rabbe said. “Four hundred-thirty homes and businesses would be impacted if the Main Street Station Pump failed. In addition, failure would cause untreated wastewater to enter the Medomak River contaminating productive shellfish flats.”
Project No. 2 replaces 20-year-old effluent pumps at the wastewater treatment facility. Waldoboro Utility District is permitted to “land apply” treated wastewater from April through November in dry weather using these pumps. According to Rabbe, the project is designed to improve disposal of treated and stored wastewater. “The lagoon must be pumped to low levels to provide off-season storage. ‘Per the Waldoboro Utility District, loss of these old pumps during warm weather pumping period imperils safe storage during parts of spring, fall, and winter.’ Eventually water in the lagoon would flow over and erode its berms,” Rabbe said.
In the application, the utility district reported project cost estimates from Dirigo Engineering for both projects. Main Street Pump Station Improvements: new 100 high-pressure pump, $60,000; two variable frequency drives, $50,000; engineering, installation, and contingency expenses, $33,000. Costs for effluent pumps at the wastewater treatment facility: new pumps, $64,000; installation labor, $20,000; contingency, $8,400. Grand total for both projects is $235,400. Rabbi reported the utility district would use $35,000 from its capital improvement fund for the balance. In seeking commissioners’ approval, Rabbe said “Both projects face pressing timelines as they involve aged equipment and show issues with reliability. WUD noted (there could be) disastrous economic and environmental impacts, if either system fails. These projects are considered shovel-ready and can be completed within a year.”
The commission also received applications from Wiscasset Sewer and Great Salt Bay Sanitary districts. Barnes reported decisions on those applications would occur later this month. “We asked for additional information. We received Wiscasset’s on Friday (May 27), but haven’t had time to review it. And, we are still waiting for Great Salt Bay’s,” Barnes.