Almost 30 million dollars has been granted to seven Maine wastewater facilities for upgrades to prevent contamination of the state’s waterways. But The Maine Department of Environmental protection says it’s just not enough.
Wastewater collection and storm drain systems in Van Buren need upgrades. One of the reasons is to preserve the St. John River.
Dan LaPointe, “The way the piping is designed absorbs a lot of water and goes beyond the storage capacity of the wastewater plant, and so it all goes right into the river.”
The town is one of seven communities in Maine to recently receive funding from the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants. Van Buren has received just over 800 thousand dollars in loans and grants combined – but it’s not enough.
Dan LaPointe, “The project right now is estimated at $1.2 million.”
Van Buren was not granted a Community Development Block Grant worth about 1 million dollars which they applied for this year, but plan to apply again in order to sufficient funding to even get started on the upgrades. So the 862 thousand dollars they received is pretty much just sitting there right now. DEP officials say the upgrades are needed.
Bill Sheehan, “A lot of towns the pipes were put in a long time ago, they’re aging and they’re cracking the problem usually is we’re letting clean water into the pipes that goes to the treatment plant rather than letting sewage out of the pipes.”
If the Van Buren does not get the proper funding to upgrade is waste water treatment plant, it could be bad news for the town and the environment.
Dan LaPoint, “Eventually the DEP is going to stop us from dumping the excess overflow at some point, right now you’re dumping sewage into the river just upstream from our boat landing, which is a public use facility, not the best of situations”
Bill Sheehan, “When you’re doing a project like that to fix these pipes, you’re going to be digging up the streets, and that’s an opportunity to fix other problems that might be in the streets such as storm water drainage and it’s an expensive endeavor.”