2017-03-02 / Community News

Plans in works for new facility

A $50 million project now under way in Biddeford has the potential to advance increased mutual aid between water utilities from Portland to Kittery, an effort that has been moving forward since 2005, when utility-sponsored legislation began the process of encouraging regional solutions for public water delivery in Maine.

The Maine Water Company recently released the design and construction schedule for a new water treatment facility near the Saco River. The company will file applications for environmental permits in mid 2017, finish design in fall 2018, with construction to start once design and permitting is complete. The new facility is expected to be online and serving customers in fall 2020. The current water treatment facility, which serves customers in Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough, is more than 130 years old and is located in the flood plain of the Saco River. The new facility will be well out of the flood plain, on the western side of South Street in Biddeford.

The Maine Legislature passed a law in 2005 that led to the creation of the Southern Maine Regional Water Council, and last fall, it released a technical update to a report it originally released in 2008. The original report identified Sebago Lake and the Saco River as bodies of water “that might be expanded as regional supplies are integrated into a regional supply system in the future.” In particular, “A new regional water treatment facility could be constructed along the Saco River, sized to meet the projected needs of the entire region.”

Maine Water’s new facility will have an initial capacity to treat 20 million gallons per day. With an eye on regional cooperation, the company is making sure its new facility is expandable. All water systems in southern Maine currently produce about a combined 40 million gallons of “finished water” per day, but the Southern Maine Regional Water Council expects demand for public drinking water to grow.

Members of the Southern Maine Regional Water Council include Portland Water District, Maine Water Company, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells Water District, Sanford Water District, South Berwick Water District, York Water District and Kittery Water District.

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