Members of the Rockport Select Board voted Feb. 22 to approve a $5.8 million sewer extension project which would extend the town’s sewer line from Sea Light Lane to South Street. The town received three bids for the project, and selected low bidder Nitram Excavation and General Contractor, Inc. of Benton, to perform the work for $5,846,748.
At the meeting the Select Board also approved a financing plan from Androscoggin Bank to purchase a $202,730 Daigle & Houghton Western Star 4700SF plow truck for the Public Works Department; Androscoggin Bank offered the town a seven-year loan at an interest rate of 1.89%.
Referred to as the Route 1 Wastewater Project, the scope of work Nitram Excavation will be performing includes laying approximately 8,000 linear feet of gravity sewer line, 7,400 linear feet of sewer force main and 6,400 linear feet of water main. The project includes construction of two new wastewater pump stations.
Saco firm Woodard and Curran (W&C) were hired by the town to review the three bids received for the project and recommended to Town Manager Bill Post that the municipality engage Nitram, whose bid of $5,846,748 was the lowest; other bidders were McGee Construction at $6,433,500 and Sargent Corporation, with $7,729,490
In a Feb. 10 letter to Post, Jonathan Earle of W&C said that Nitram’s bid is could be broken into two categories: one for the water portion, and one for sewer portion. Earle said that approximately $1.3 of the $5.8 million would be funded by Maine Water, the company responsible for the “water portion,” leaving the municipality responsible for approximately $4.5 million which represents the sewer or wastewater portion of the project.
In a memo to the board prior to the Feb. 22 meeting Post said “the Town currently has funding in place for up to $5,200,000 for this project.” $4.5 million of this is derived from a bond approved by Rockport voters in 2019, and an additional $500,000 comes from $500,000 the Route 1 tax increment financing (TIF) district. Other monies being used include a $200,000 grant from Northern Border Regional Commission.
Now that the Select Board has approved Nitram’s bid, work on the project could begin as early as May 1, according to Nate McLaughlin, a principal at W&C.
“Road postings are the thing [Nitram] will have to work around – they have to get to their pits and their material, but let’s assume a May 1 start. It’s a 240-day contract so they may get it all done in 2021, but likely will have to take a winter shutdown and finish in the spring of 2022,” said McLaughlin on Feb. 22.
Post said that their are currently 644 users, either businesses or residences, which are connected to Rockport’s sewer system; he estimated that as many as 40 new users could join the town’s wastewater system once the new line is extended along Route 1. He said that the addition of wastewater users could result in an overall decrease in the usage fees paid by residents.
“With the sewer line extension and the water line upgrades as well, it just opens up that whole area to further economic development. I would expect that we would gain more users once this is in the ground,” said Post.
“The number of users we’re counting in ‘today’ terms are those properties that are already developed and have frontage on Route 1 and would expect to get a sewer service. The number of build-out users you might experience from this extension is hard to quantify, but whether that’s businesses or subdivisions or whatever your zoning allows, it would presumably in the future be much greater than the 40 [new users] number that we’re talking about today,” said McLaughlin.
During the meeting, which was held remotely via ZOOM, a member of the public submitted a question regarding infiltration problems with the town’s existing sewer lines, and how this may be remedied or worsened through the addition of the new wastewater lines.
“This sewer extension, because it is all new infrastructure, will not be subject to the same sort of infiltration issues that the existing system may have. The direction the sewer is being collected and will be going in is south, that’s a decision that we made early on when we were sizing pumps and putting the pipes in the ground. You have more than adequate capacity within your interlocal agreement with Rockland to accept this flow, so really there’s nothing about this extension that is going to exacerbate the [infiltration] problem,” said McLaughlin.
Board Chair Debra Hall said that some related wastewater issues are expected to appear as agenda items for further discussion in March; last November the board voted unanimously to approve a comprehensive study by W&C to examine the town’s current wastewater treatment plan, as well as explore options including building a new treatment plant.
The study costs $10,000 and includes performing a sewer user charge/flow appropriation calculation, within which the firm would review the the rate structure pertaining to the interlocal agreements with Camden and Rockland.
Parcels of land will be identified upon which a wastewater treatment facility could be built, and a “lifecycle” costa analysis would be performed on the existing technology, pipes, and 20 pumping stations in Rockport. Preliminary engineering cost estimates for a new wastewater treatment facility would also be included.
The next meeting of the Rockport Select Board will be held Monday, March 8 at 5:30 p.m.