OAKLAND — After years of planning topped off by months of wrangling and preparation, a contractor is on-site to begin repairs to a $6 million sewer system that hasn’t worked since it was first put in the ground in 2009.

The sewer system, which includes five miles of piping, was slated to become fully operational in January, but tests revealed that a 1,700-foot-section was inoperable.

The question of who would pay to make the sewer system work was the subject of protracted negotiations between engineering firm Woodard and Curran, excavation contractor Pratt and Sons of Mechanic Falls, the town and the water district, according to Oakland Town Manager Peter Nielsen.

Nielsen said that the agreement, which was signed on June 13, spread blame among all involved.

“All four took some responsibility and all wish they had less,” he said.

The town will not pay any more on the repair, although Nielsen has estimated that legal fees to resolve the issue amounted to about $15,000.

The faulty section, which lies near the Oakland and Waterville town line on Webb Road, wasn’t capable of conveying enough water through two 6-inch pipes.

“Water would through flow through the pipe, but not at the design rate we need to operate successfully,” said Nielsen. “If we needed to flow 700 gallons a minute, we could only flow 150. It wasn’t going to work.”

A 12-inch pipe will go into the ground that should have the capacity needed to operate, even during peak usage times.

An employee of Pratt and Sons said Thursday that the people with knowledge of the project were on site and therefore not available for comment.

In 2009, after the state directed Oakland to stop discharging treated water into Messalonskee Stream, it moved to close its sewer treatment plant and connect with the Waterville Sewerage District at the intersection of Webb and West River roads, according to a statement from the Oakland Sewer Department.

Nielsen said that he hoped to resolve the issue soon.

“Once we get going, we think it’s a two-week job,” he said. “It’s just a frustration for all the parties, including the public.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

[email protected]

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