Enforce or expand? Report details sewer system woes

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

Excess flows from failing systems along the town’s sewer system are compromising Bridgton’s ability to bring further development to the downtown.

That’s the verdict from a final inspection report done by Wright-Pierce Engineering, and selectmen will soon have to confront a hard choice: do they want to ignore the deficiencies, and simply build bigger beds at the end of the line, or do they want to enforce the sewer ordinance, and require users to repair their systems?

“Ray Turner and Mark Hatch, to their credit, said we need to run and manage a professional system,” said Alan Manoian, Bridgton’s director of Economic and Community Development, of the two sewer board members who have reviewed the report. Manoian said Turner will be recommending to selectmen that they use remaining grant funds from the sewer study to go back and inspect all of the users in the system, to provide a complete view of all sources of water infiltration into the system.

Wright-Pierce selected around a dozen properties to inspect for their limited study, conducted last December, which included septic tank inspections and house-to-house inspections. The results found three areas of excessive inflow/infiltration — Main Street and Mechanic Street, Harrison Road near Pondicherry Square, and the parking lot behind the House of Pizza.

A 1,000-gallon septic tank at 277 Main Street was found to be deteriorated, and the 1,000-gallon tank at 260 Main Street “does not appear to be rated for traffic loads and is in very poor condition,” the report stated. However, those tanks aren’t the major problem.

“Preliminary inclinations are that the excess flows in the system are from inflow sources on private property,” the report states.

The report stated that the town’s two sewer beds, at the lower ball field and Dodge Field, are exceeding the capacity of their waste discharge license during spring rains, but otherwise are operating below capacity. In addition, improvements made in 2008-2009 by installing two additional fields and OxyPro treatment units should serve the town well.

Manoian said the town’s sewer line ends at the foot of Main Hill, so there is no system to serve the upper part of downtown, including the historic William Perry House that is undergoing restoration. He said that in the future, selectmen will need to begin discussions on possibly expanding the system to serve that part of Main Street, and possibly also consider expanding it to serve Portland Road as well.

“It’s putting us at an economic disadvantage” not to be able to provide sewer service to downtown properties, he said.

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