OXFORD — After nearly three years – which included a number of delays – the Oxford Wastewater Treatment Facility is now online.
Town Manager Derik Goodine announced at last week’s selectmen’s meeting the roughly $24 million state-of-the-art plant, located at the Welchville Dam on the corner of routes 26 and 121, achieved “substantial completion” on June 25 and should be completely finished by Tuesday, Aug. 9.
“The plant itself is operational. We are taking Dunkin’ Donuts,” Goodine said at the Thursday, July 7 meeting. “[Principal Engineer] Brent Bridges [said] we can start looking at some contracts with some companies to actually start hook up some people once the pump stations get online.”
Potential users include Oxford Elementary School and Oxford Pines Regency Mobile Home Park along with residential homeowners.
Planning for the new sewer system began in 2013, according to Sun Media archives, and construction began three years ago, according to Bridges. It took roughly a year and a half to build the plant where the wastewater is treated via UV light, instead of the more traditional chemicals, and discharged into the Little Androscoggin River.
To get the facility operational, sewage was brought in from Paris Utility District, Mechanic Falls and Lewiston-Auburn to help grow bugs for treatment, Bridges said Monday, July 11. A number of test runs were conducted to make sure all of the plant’s equipment and systems were operating properly.
“Quality looks good,” Bridges said. “You could drink it if you wanted to.”
Town officials have hailed the new sewer system as a catalyst of economic development in the area. Developers with the Hampton Inn – which is still under construction and across the street from Oxford Casino on Route 26 – have timed its opening with the sewer system becoming fully operational, they previously said.
Just after the plant got the green light to operate, Stuart Rose, of the Maine Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Water Quality, conducted an inspection at the facility. He went over “basic essential aspects of setting up a wastewater treatment operation,” according to Rose’s June 30 report.
He noted Bob Dubar is “current principle operator” for the facility, but only has a Grade I certification but needs to obtain a Grade III certification to “legally operate the facility as per license conditions.” In the interim, there is a contract that needs to be signed and updated with the Mechanic Falls Sanitary District that allows Nick Konstantoulakis to oversee the Oxford facility, Rose wrote.
The main issue discussed during the inspection was the creation of a Sewer User Ordinance in town, which should cover wastewater pretreatment, according to Rose.
“One of the town’s first ‘customers’ may be MGA Cast Stone, currently discharging pretreated castings wash and wastewater to an in-ground system,” Rose wrote. “The nature of the discharge may have a negative effect on membrane filters, so any discussion with the company must include pretreatment issues and flows (if initially, the company is a major flow contributor to the collection system).”
Rose also recommended the town begin building an asset management program for wastewater treatment.
“You have just spent the money on all the initial assets (pipes, pumps, pump stations, valves, buildings, basins, tanks, computers, electronics, actuators, PLC’s, samplers, etc.) and now is the time to track their wear and tear in a database and make determinations of longevity, depreciation, future costs, etc.,” he wrote.
At last week’s meeting, Goodine also gave selectmen an update on other sewer system work around town.
“They will be finishing up Roller Rink Road … soon, as they’ve been dealing with some shallow ledge,” he said, adding the pump station is going online late, around Nov. 28, because it’s a custom-made pump.
He wanted Roller Rink Road “buttoned up as fast as possible.”
“I don’t want a repeat on King Street,” he said.
Goodine is referring to catch basins that were further in the road than originally thought and caused one of the many delays throughout the sewer project’s roughly two-year construction history.
“I am learning a lot about this project after-the-fact, so it’s been rather interesting,” Goodine said, laughing.
The main sewer line on Route 26 is scheduled to be completed around Tuesday, Aug. 2, and the pump station at Oxford Plains Speedway should go online the day before, Goodine said.
“They are probably going saw cut that road down the middle and actually repave it instead of playing around with the concrete that is collapsing as they are digging and undermining the road,” he added about Route 26. “They think that is going to be a cheaper option.”