$100 a day fine for noncompliance with municipal request

Rockport seeks to sort out excess sewer inflow, wants to inspect all connections

Wed, 05/15/2019 - 12:15pm

    The Town of Rockport has a sewer inflow problem, according to the town’s wastewater commissioners (who are also Select Board members). That has resulted in excess payments for all sewer users.

    Sewer inflow is water that gets into the sewer system but which is coming from an non-billable source. 

    Typically, rainwater or groundwater that gets into the system during rain storms and spring thaws, according to a news release from the town office. 

    That water either infiltrates via leaking around manhole covers or when static water pressure around aging underground pipes allows groundwater into the system. 

    It also infiltrates, or “inflows” via unwanted direct connections from non-sewer sources.

    The latter is Rockport’s current focus.

    “Some infiltration is an act of nature, so to speak, and is normal in a sewer system that is starting to aged,” the town office said. “Inflow, on the other hand, happens when basement drains, sump pumps, perimeter drains and roof drains are inappropriately connected to the system.  Sources of inflow are not metered and therefore the generators of the inflow are not billed.  When this happens, all sewer users pay.”

    Rockport estimates that nearly 18 million gallons of unbilled water is running through the system and is being sent to Camden and Rockland for treatment.  

    Consequently, sewer users are paying to treat water that does not need to be treated, which affects sewer bills. 

    “Additionally, as improvements are made to the treatment plants in Camden and Rockport, our portion of the upgrades to those systems are based on the volume of flow going to them and the sewer department will be paying for the town’s proportional share of these improvements for the next 20 years,” the town said.

    Some infiltration is a normal occurrence that every system experiences.  But if the town can reduce the inflow to 10 million gallons of infiltration, by eliminating unwanted inflow, “this is huge,” the town said.

    To do this the Town needs to inspect every property, home and businesses that receive a quarterly sewer bill to ensure that there are no improper connections to the system. 

    Recently sewer users received a letter from the town.  The letter requested that users set up an appointment by May 20 for the inspections that will take place over Summer 2019.

    Letters were sent on April 16 and additional reminder letters are going out soon to all the people who have not called to make appointments.  After May 20, anyone who has not called to set up an appointment will be charged a minimum fine of $100/day until the appointment is set up.

    The survey should last approximately 15 to 20 minutes.   Email rockportww@town.rockport.me.us or call (207) 230-0180 x6 and ask for Molli Bennett to schedule an appointment.