Public outreach planned on sewer expansion

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer
Bridgton Selectmen agreed Tuesday to have the Wastewater Committee reach out to sewer system users with a concerted informational and educational campaign.
The campaign will include a sit-down with each of the system’s 60 or so users, and distribution of a tri-fold brochure that begins to talk about possibilities for expanding the system beyond its current capacity.
Wastewater Committee Chairman Glen “Bear” Zaidman” said a recently-completed Wastewater Disposal Feasibility Study done by Woodard & Curran suggested that if Bridgton wants to have economic growth, it must find a way to expand sewer capacity beyond what is possible with the two existing downtown leach fields. The study suggested it might be time for residents to consider building a spray irrigation system, with an estimated cost of $21 million.
Many different forms of funding and grants could be tapped to reduce the impact on taxpayers, Zaidman said. The key to applying for them was to finalize the feasibility study, which has now been done.
Zaidman said the leach field at the lower ballfield has no land available for expansion, and the Dodge field has only land enough to provide for an additional 2,000 gallons a day of capacity. Considering that two recent sewer allocation requests were approved that nearly total that amount, he said, it becomes easy to see that the town needs to start looking beyond the idea of simply searching for more leach field space.
He said the committee also wants to explain to users ways the sewer system can be better managed, to build public support for policy changes.
A potential expansion route has been mapped out that would include Portland Road to Willett Road to South High Street and back over to Main Hill at the Monument. “If you’re going to follow the routes on that map, the (two existing) beds won’t cut it,” Zaidman said.
Selectman Paul Hoyt said he wasn’t convinced that a good deal of economic growth could occur in town without expanding the system to match what has been mapped out. He pointed to the number of new businesses and subdivision developments that have located or been approved on Portland Road without having public sewer service.
Zaidman said that in his opinion, the town’s focus in recent years on improving technology at the two leach fields has been ill-advised. “In 2010, we put hundreds of thousands of dollars into those two fields,” and we went down by 10,000 gallons a day in our capacity, from 40,000 to 30,000 gallons a day.
He did acknowledge that a smaller expansion to the existing system would be the way to go “if the people want to maintain the system with minimum growth.”
Other towns, such as Oxford, that have approved major systems, have found that 40% or more of the costs were covered by grants. “It could happen in Bridgton,” he said.

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