Boyd Snowden goes into every engineering project thinking about how to save people money.

“It’s kind of the guise of everything that I do,” he said.

When he saw an opportunity to join the Oakland Sewer Department in 2014 and “get on the other side of the fence” and help the town save money, he jumped on it.

Now, after two successful projects that have saved the town thousands so far, he’s been named Oakland’s first official municipal engineer by the Town Council.

“I kind of look at it as following through on what I initially said to the councilors, that I want to do whatever I can do in my 32 hours per week,” said Snowden, 50, on his promotion and the additional tasks he’s taken on.

Snowden, who lives in Sidney, has owned Snowden Consulting Engineers since 2000. Over the past 10 years, he’s been working on 20 to 30 projects per year that have ranged from $30,000 to more than $1 million. But in that role as a consulting engineer, he doesn’t get to do much hands-on work, he said.

After taking on his first role in Oakland, he’s gotten “the best of both worlds,” he said.

His latest project was born out of collaboration with the director of the transfer station, Dan Hapgood.

“The way the town operates, and the way I look at things, it’s kind of a team approach,” Snowden said. “We all do different things for each other to help each other out.”

Working as part of a team is also “one of the bigger benefits” of his job, he said. As a consultant, he spends a lot of his time on his own, so it was nice to come to a place “where everyone knows each other.”

“All of the people in Oakland, … it’s kind of like a family,” he said.

Town Manager Gary Bowman holds department head meetings every month to discuss finances and promote fiscal responsibility, Bowman said, and last fall Snowden started to talk about how he could save the town money at the transfer station.

The transfer station contracts with CES Inc., an environmental engineering company, for many of its services related to landfill testing. The estimate for the next budget is $32,000, Hapgood said.

Snowden, an engineer and licensed water operator with experience sampling public water, worked with Hapgood and the state Department of Environmental Protection to find a way the town could take on a majority of the work.

Snowden will do the biannual testing in the late fall and spring, which he estimates will save the town $20,000 per year or more after they buy the necessary equipment.

He said the project “makes sense,” and that he told the town to “use me for what you can get out of me.”

His hours won’t change, but the sewer work is cyclical, he said. It gets slow in the winter, which is when Snowden will be developing an annual report on the two tests for the state department.

The tests require sampling wells at the site of Oakland’s two landfills, one of which is a closed landfill and one of which is a demolition and debris landfill. Each of the more than 400 landfills in Maine have wells at the site to test for things such as bacteria, minerals, salts and certain gases such as methane, Hapgood said.

“You’re looking to track change,” he said.

The switch from CES Inc. to a town employee will give the transfer station “a little more control,” Hapgood said. Before, whenever they had to change a survey or report for the town, they would have to call CES and sometimes go through multiple interpretations to get it right.

“With having Boyd right here in town, he can come up fairly easily and see what we’re looking at doing and make changes fairly rapidly at a lower cost,” he said.

This is one of many recent improvements at the transfer station. The station also has begun accepting a number of different types of waste, including smoke detectors, paint and rigid plastics such as yogurt tubs. They’re also working on a new program to collect American flags, Hapgood said. Together with the Oakland Lions Club, they hope to fund a “nice wooden collection box” that people will feel comfortable putting flags in.

Snowden also saved the town money in his initial role as sewer superintendent, tackling the town’s major inflow and infiltration problem.

“In 2014, I knew that they had a pretty substantial inflow and infiltration issue, and I looked at it as a pretty exciting challenge,” he said, explaining why he wanted to work for the town.

The department has installed cameras to monitor the sewer lines’ flow in certain areas where it suspected groundwater was leaching in. When groundwater, or “clean” water, gets into the system, the town pays to pump it to the Waterville Sewer District system. The combined sewage then goes to the Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District, as does the sewage from the towns of Winslow, Fairfield and Benton.

Of all the water that goes to Waterville, 67 percent is “clean” water, Snowden said. In the past, he’s estimated that the additional flow costs the town more than $70,000 per year, including pump maintenance and treatment charges from Waterville.

So far, the department has finished work on Oak and Water streets, which Snowden estimates has saved the town several thousand dollars. The flow levels are decreasing, but rainfall varies from year to year, so it’s hard to come up with exact data, he said.

Since October, 3 to 7 gallons of water per minute have been caught in a catch basin installed on Water Street, for an average of 7,200 gallons per day. Over eight months, that’s $5,000, he said.

On Oak Street, the department has lined one section of the water main that was a major contributer to infiltration as well as a maintenance problem, requiring more of the department’s time and money each year to remove roots that grew in the sewer.

Lower Oak Street is the next project, Snowden said, so the department is planning to put meters there as well as elsewhere in the system.

“With all these projects, I want to get at least an estimate as to what the inflow and infiltration is so I can calculate a return on investment,” he said.

Bowman, the town manager, said Snowden has done a “hell of a job” for the town.

“The town has utilized him for site work on the Police Department and road work on Hussey Hill Road and down at the gazebo for site work,” he said, “which saves the town a lot of money, because if we didn’t have his services as a town employee, we’d be hiring it out.”

Bowman said the town is proud that it has a licensed engineer on its staff, which many other small towns don’t, and that Snowden has been “an exceptional hire” for the town.

Snowden received a small pay raise for his increased responsibilities, giving him an extra $2,000 for the work at the transfer station. He now makes $60,000, the majority of which is paid by the users of the Oakland Sewer Department and not the tax base, he said. His pay is less than that of the city engineer for Augusta, which starts at more than $63,000 and reaches a maximum of over $79,000.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour