Senators Collins, King Announce More Than $46 Million Investment for Water Infrastructure in Southwest Harbor, Bridgton, and Rockland

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development office is investing a total of $46,121,000 to upgrade water infrastructure in Southwest Harbor, Bridgton, and Rockland.  USDA is providing financing through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program, which can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage, and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

 

“Maintaining and upgrading water infrastructure is vital to ensuring the economic and environmental health of these communities,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “Southwest Harbor, Bridgton, and Rockland are renowned for their pristine beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities.  These significant investments will help protect the environment in the regions while creating jobs and increasing efficiencies at their wastewater treatment plants.”

 

The funding was awarded as follows:

 

·         Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District ($15,684,000)

 

Southwest Harbor was awarded an $8,000,000 loan and a $7,684,000 grant to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility and pump stations. The project will remove processing equipment that has exceeded its useful life, replace and expand existing structures, and improve overall efficiencies of the treatment process. The improvements include building upgrades, pump station upgrades, new blowers, sludge pumps, a dumping station, sludge dewatering, and clarifiers. These upgrades include higher efficiency equipment, which will result in more affordable operations for the users of the system.

 

The town’s wastewater treatment facility provides essential wastewater services to its 539 residential and 128 commercial and governmental customers. Upon completion of the project, the district will be in compliance with its Maine Department of Environmental Protection discharge permit. Modernization of this circa 1973 wastewater treatment plant will minimize and/or eliminate the potential for discharge of untreated sewage into the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Maintaining a healthy waterfront is essential to this region's economy. It will aid future economic growth and it is estimated that project funds will help to create or save approximately 378 jobs. Upgrades to the sewer system play an important role in preserving Southwest Harbor as a working waterfront that relies on tourism, eco-tourism, recreational and commercial boating, and commercial fishing in order to maintain a viable economy. This means that preserving the water quality of nearby Somes Sound, a coastal waterway in the Gulf of Maine, is of the utmost importance as the Atlantic Ocean is the lifeblood of this rural community.

 

·         Town of Bridgton ($20,437,000)

 

Bridgton was awarded a $10,437,000 loan and a $10,000,000 grant to rehabilitate its wastewater treatment system. The proposed project is to construct a new wastewater treatment facility, upgrade some aging sewer collection infrastructure, and to expand the system which will enable additional users in the greater downtown area to have access to public wastewater services.

 

The expansion portion of the project is expected to add 448 new users, increasing the total number of users on the system from 207 to 655. The proposed project will focus on the wastewater facility as it is in need of immediate upgrades. Some of the plant's original equipment and processes are upwards of 35 years old, and the overall facility is well beyond the 20 year useful life for which it was originally designed. The plant is now at an age where it has a greater chance of equipment failure and it has incurred increased maintenance needs. Several key unit processes at the plant are inefficient, inadequate, or obsolete.

 

The rehabilitation improvements address the aging infrastructure and capacity issues in the project area, as well as restore the design capacity of the facility at a reasonable cost. The proposed upgrades, which are long overdue, will help the system operate more effectively and efficiently, as well as address the Maine Department of Environmental Protection health and sanitary concerns. The upgrades included in this project represent the highest priorities identified in the town's Strategic Plan and will have the greatest benefit to the distribution system.

 

Additional funding includes $2,000,000 from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $443,000 from the Town of Bridgton.

 

·         City of Rockland ($10,000,000)

 

Rockland was awarded an $8,028,000 loan and a $1,972,000 grant to rehabilitate the city’s wastewater treatment facility, upgrade some aging sewer collection infrastructure, and correct some Combined Sewer Overflow abatement issues. The proposed project will focus on the wastewater system as it is in need of immediate upgrades. Some of the plant's original equipment and processes are upwards of 40 years old, and the overall facility is well beyond the 20-year useful life for which it was originally designed. The plant is now at an age where it has a greater chance of equipment failure and it has incurred increased maintenance needs. Several key unit processes at the plant are inefficient, inadequate, or obsolete.

 

The rehabilitation improvements address the aging infrastructure and capacity issues in the project area, as well as restore the design capacity of the facility at a reasonable cost. The proposed upgrades, which are long overdue, will help the system operate more effectively and efficiently, as well as address the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's health and sanitary concerns. The upgrades included in this project represent the highest priorities identified in the city's Strategic Plan and Combined Sewer Overflow Master Plan and will have the greatest benefit to the distribution system, which serves 2,943 users.