I rarely give a thought to my septic system. On my long list of things to worry about, it’s pretty much the last one. Unless, of course, it backs up, something’s clogged, the tank needs pumping, or God forbid, the leach field is failing. In 50 years of home ownership all of the above have happened, some more than once.
Rural living means each dwelling provides its own water via a well, and each its own sewer via a septic tank and leach field. Anyone fresh from a more urban area where both water and sewer are a package deal has a lot to learn. Instead of paying a regular water bill which covers both we out in the country are on our own.
Water obviously comes out of the ground, either from a deep drilled well or a hand dug one. Yes, there are still a few of those around. When a friend thought her water tasted a bit off, she opened up the top of her dug well and spotted the carcass of whatever it was that had fallen in and died. She was able to scoop it out, then the Fire Department came over and pumped out all the water. As the well filled up again she poured in a bottle or two of bleach, ran the well dry, waited for it to fill up, and finally was able to use it again.
See? Country people need to know how to deal with a dead skunk in their well.
The other end of things, the septic tank and leach field, require different skills. Carl Carlson, a fellow I much admired and have written about before, had dug (with a shovel!) the leach field behind our house a few years before we bought it. Ten years, three kids, and a family cow later, the back pasture started to smell. The older couple who’d hired Carl to dig the field didn’t put nearly as much stuff through the system as all the laundry, diapers, dishes, and milk processing that our growing family produced.
MONDAY, Nov. 2
School Committee meets, 6 p.m., remote
TUESDAY, Nov. 3
ELECTION DAY FINALLY! 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Lynx Gym
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 4
Library book pickup, 3-6 p.m., Library
SATURDAY, Nov. 7
Library book pickup, 9 a.m.-noon, Library
AA meetings, Tuesdays & Fridays at noon, Norton Pond/Breezemere Bandstand
Lincolnville Community Library, curbside pickup Wednesdays, 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon. For information call 706-3896.
Soup Café, cancelled through the pandemic
Schoolhouse Museum open by appointment, 505-5101 or 789-5987
Bayshore Baptist Church, Sunday School for all ages, 9:30 a.m., Worship Service at 11 a.m., Atlantic Highway, In person and on Facebook
United Christian Church, Worship Service 9:30 a.m. via Zoom
Chili Take-Out: Nov. 22
A fancy engineering study (because of our heavy clay soil it had to be above ground), tons and tons of gravel, and thousands of dollars later Mount O’Brien stretched across that back pasture. So far it’s handled whatever we’ve given it, though in a repeat of our first years here, once again a family of five plus one old woman are putting it through its paces. So far no cow.
We’ve got plenty of land around our house for an appropriate-sized leach field, appropriately distanced (!) from our well. But just down the hill and into the part of town known as Lincolnville Beach the houses are closer together, the lots are smaller (no required lot size back in the day), and everything Is built on the slope leading down to the water. Which means everyone’s leach field (if, indeed, they have one and if it’s working properly) eventually seeps into the Bay.
The same Bay that’s the jewel in our crown, so to speak, though Lincolnville is arguably blessed with many jewels – Pitcher, Coleman, Norton, Megunticook. Still as a town it behooves us to do everything we can to protect them all. And the Beach village is a busy place, especially in the summer with potentially four restaurants, a bed and breakfast, convenience store, ferry terminal, post office, and several rental units. Each and every one of these needs a way to dispose of sewage.
Around 1990 these local businesses organized the Lincolnville Beach Sanitation Facility, a private sewage treatment plant to take care of the immediate Beach; it was located in a small building behind McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack.
But by 2000 talk of a more inclusive system started. A town committee, the Water and Sewer committee had been formed to investigate the water and sewer needs of the whole town. The two most densely built-up areas, the Beach and the Center, were targeted. Though the Center has water and sewer issues as well, there was little interest in tackling them at that time.
Not so at the Beach. There the prospect of potentially causing pollution in the Bay got everyone’s attention, and the Lincolnville Sewer District was formed to study the problem. A quasi-municipal entity, the LSD is chartered by the State. Over the 10 years of its existence the LSD trustees (who must live in the designated Sewer District) sought every possible avenue of funding and hired an engineering firm, all the while they were defining the boundaries of the District, and looking for a suitable piece of land for the plant.
My first question for Catherine Lippman was “where’d you get the money?” The former owner of the Spouter Inn with her husband Paul, Catherine was able to take me through the last many years of LSD deliberations. Paul, a trustee from the beginning, shares the job of heading up the LSD with Marc Impagliazzo, present owner of Spouter Inn. By the way, they’re looking for a third trustee who, like them, must live within the District. To date the LSD has received about $2,770,000 in grants from various agencies and a $2,050,000 loan from USDA with repayment to start in the second year after the treatment plant is on line.
To date there are approximately 60 properties within the District which goes north from Green Tree Coffee on Atlantic Highway to the property just beyond Lincolnville Dentistry beyond the Beach. It also goes up Beach Road to Salt Pond Lane and to the Ferry Terminal on Ferry Road. Those of us who live at the Beach have experienced the construction project first hand these past two or three months.
For after all the years of talk, planning, getting grants, and doing studies, construction is finally underway. Woodard and Curran is the engineering firm that designed the plant, a package system called Amphidrome with a biological reactor that has a very low visual impact and small footprint. According to Paul Lippman, the trustees chose this system since space is so limited at the Beach and the plant will be in a high visibility area.
I guess so! And this is the fascinating part. The whole thing is being assembled on a small plot of land between two houses on Atlantic Highway just south of Ferry Road and the Beach. It’s tucked in between the ferry parking lot and the Highway.
Apex Construction out of New Hampshire is overseeing the project with JBI Construction of Owls Head doing the work.
First, the sloping land was excavated, the whole hillside cut away, and then four holding tanks, among other components of the system, are being installed. Catherine says all the dirt that was removed has been stored somewhere up Beach Road, and will be brought back to essentially bury the tanks. She mentioned that grass will be planted, maybe shrubbery. For a long time you could drive by and never realize what was going on right over the bank as you drove north towards the Beach. Apparently, once it’s all done it will be a grassy hillside again.
While the treatment plant has been assembled this fall, JBI’s workers began cutting away the asphalt and digging deep trenches along the road to Green Tree and then up Beach to Salt Pond. Every day they’d dig another section, lay pipe and wherever there was a house, a stub went in for that household to tie in. And by evening they’d have the day’s trench filled in, compacted and paved over again.
We locals spent a good many minutes waiting for the flag guy to give us the go ahead, but traffic moved efficiently, and we got to watch the progress up close.
According to the LSD Ordinance every home or business owner within the District has 7 years to connect to the system, assuming that they have a State approved and functioning septic system. If not, they’re required to connect sooner. By 2027 everyone living within 150 feet of the sewer line must be tied in. There is a yearly fee of $635 for a household, more for a restaurant or buildings with rentals. Plus the property owner must pay for excavation out to the stub and for the pipe to connect in.
The LSD has been the goal of a group of dedicated Beach residents for past two decades, the town agreed to participate to a certain extent. A vote of townspeople a couple of years ago guaranteed to grant the LSD up to $19,000 a year to help with the loan repayment if the District should have a shortfall. As soon as enough people have tied in there should be no problem for the District to pay the loan.
Next step is an evaluation of all the households in the District to determine who has a State approved and functioning septic system, and who does not. For now, the sewer line has been installed to Salt Pond Lane on Beach Road and south to Green Tree on Route One. Road work is done for the season; MDOT (Maine Dept. of Transportation) halts all open road work after Oct. 15. JBI got an extension to Oct. 31 because of the mild weather. They’ll resume work laying the lines north of the Beach next spring.
But work will continue on the treatment plant itself. And since the businesses from Edward Jones Financial to the Frohock Brook bridge, including both the Lobster Pound Restaurant and McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack, already have sewer pipes leading to the original private treatment plant, they can easily be connected to the new plant, which is only a few dozen feet away, this winter. By February or so they should be on-line. The new system’s outflow pipe will connect to the current outflow at the old system, sending treated, clean water into the Bay.
It’s the least we can do.
FINALLY!! ELECTION DAY TOMORROW
Although the town has sent out some 1000 absentee ballots for early voters, some of us have been waiting for the real thing: waiting in line, checking in with the ballot clerks, taking our ballot into the little booth and VOTING. The polls are open Tuesday, Nov. 2, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. At Zoom church yesterday Pastor Elizabeth Barnum said she’d be baking blueberry muffins tonight for her family, but in honor of the UCC’s traditional Election Day bake sale. For many years early morning voters were greeted with a table full of homemade goodies and by the time everything was gone, the church’s fuel oil account was full for the winter.
So no bake sale tomorrow. But I like Elizabeth’s idea of baking something anyway. Maybe by next Election Day we’ll be back to some version of normal.
So far so good. In-school learning is still in place (another one of those new terms that’s entered the language in the past months) which includes careful health checks of each child every day. You know the questions: “Do you have a fever? A cough? Have been around anyone with Covid?” Parents have to fill out a questionnaire with those questions each morning before sending their kids to school.
While most students are going to school every day, a number are doing remote learning. If a child or staff member is determined to have Covid or to have been exposed the school personnel are poised to jump into action, through contact tracing, or closing for a period for deep cleaning, or going totally remote. In spite of Waldo County’s recent downgraded “yellow” designation LCS has been able to stay open. Check out the Lynx for the latest school news. Also, the school committee meets remotely Monday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.
Historical Society gets its Home
With the Selectmen’s approval of the purchase and sale agreement of the Beach Schoolhouse, the Historical Society is getting closer to owning its home. With ownership of a 125-year-old building, though, comes repairs/restoring/remodeling, and as every owner of a venerable building knows, the inevitable expense. The Beach Schoolhouse Preservation committee is kicking off its campaign to raise that money the Lincolnville way: with a food sale.
Saturday, Nov. 22, 1-3 p.m. we’ll be offering a curbside take-out chili meal – meat or vegetarian chili, regular or gluten-free cornbread, and a cookie for $10, to be picked up at the Beach Schoolhouse, 33 Beach Road. Pre-order by emailing Jane Hardy and put chili in the subject line. If you don’t have email, call 763-3720. Enjoy the week-end games without having to cook dinner!
Pop-up Trick or Treating
When word began to get around town that our relatively new tradition of trick or treating in the Center with lots of festivities around the General Store was mostly called off this year, there was disappointment, but also from nearly everyone, the sense that this was a good call. Still, it’s hard to stop Halloween. A handful of Main Street folks lit up their jack-o-lanterns and gave out candy, a couple of them via pvc pipe chutes. Some 40 children, all masked (of course, it was Halloween!) with their parents, made the trek through the Center, showing off costumes and filling their bags with candy.