St. Agatha is a small town of 756 year-round residents nestled in the northern tip of Maine. It is home to one of 25 lakes named Long Lake in Maine, with this one covering 6,000 acres and earning the title of the deepest of the Fish River chain. When inflow and infiltration were adding extraneous flows that were reducing the Town’s wastewater treatment plant’s capacity, and even occasionally overwhelming the plant and discharging untreated waste into Long Lake, the town knew they needed to implement infrastructure upgrades.
After reviewing the available options, St. Agatha decided to propose a partnership with neighboring Town Frenchville, ME to combine forces and handle the combined flows. With improved efficiencies for both towns, the partnership would ensure user rates would remain affordable. Once the agreement was in place to connect the two communities through a regional wastewater treatment facility, St. Agatha hired Woodard & Curran to lead the design of the facility and to help make the partnership a reality.
St. Agatha’s existing wastewater treatment plant was re-purposed into an effluent pumping station and Frenchville’s treatment and collection system facilities were upgraded; this accommodated the added flow from St. Agatha and expected future flows from both towns while improving the efficiency of both systems. Pump stations and force mains were upgraded and a new gravity system connecting the two collection systems was also designed and installed.
The upgraded facility in Frenchville contains aerated lagoons with a 1.6 million gallon capacity where aerobic bacteria effectively treat wastewater. The waste collection system leading to the lagoons includes a portion of new collection system with three pump stations. The facilities in St. Agatha also provide mitigation of potential odors and odor generation in the effluent force main and also allow for some BOD and grit removal.
$3.5 million in funding from three separate agencies was secured for this project with $1.9 million coming from DEP through its Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund with principal forgiveness; $1.1 million from USDA Rural Development in loans/grants; and $500,000 from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development though a community development block grant.
Developing a partnership of this nature secured benefits for both communities. It provided a solution to untreated waste being discharged into Long Lake and also gave St. Agatha better control over their facilities, thereby improving the water quality within the town. In addition, the larger combined user base of both town’s provide more stable user rates for both communities and allow a better chance to find additional qualified staff to supplement existing staff into the future.