OAKLAND — Last-minute engineering tests on the town’s $6 million sewer system will determine whether it can begin piping sewage today for the first time since construction began three years ago.

“First thing in the morning, we’ll start the pumps with clean water to make sure that it takes the 700 gallons per minute it’s supposed to,” Dan Bolduc, treatment plant manager, said Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, excavation contractors from Pratt and Sons, of Mechanic Falls, finished a two-week construction project to replace a faulty 1,700-foot section that failed to move sewage adequately.

That stretch of sewer, near the town line between Oakland and Waterville, had two 6-inch pipes, which could handle only 150 gallons of sewage per minute, far short of the 700 gallons needed. The problem was discovered in January, and it was decided that a single, 12-inch pipe was needed.

Responsibility for the faulty system was the subject of a round of negotiations between engineering firm Woodard and Curran, Pratt and Sons, the town and the water district.

The town incurred about $15,000 in legal fees during the negotiations, during which it was decided that all four parties would share the burden. A contract to that effect was signed on June 13, according to Town Manager Peter Nielsen.

Under the agreement, Woodard and Curran provided 160 hours of repair engineering work, while Pratt and Sons replaced the pipe.

Bolduc said that the testing seemed to be going well, and that the system should be able to take actual sewage today or Monday.

“They put the 12-inch pipe in and fill it up with water,” he said. “They watch it for two hours to see if it leaks. Right now, it’s about an hour and it looks like it’s okay.”

Art Burgess, of Pratt and Sons, said that the project has gone smoothly since it was begun about two weeks ago.

Bolduc said that, when testing began, one small leak was discovered and repaired.

In 2009, after the state directed Oakland to stop discharging treated sewage into Messalonskee Stream, it planned to close its treatment plant and connect with the Waterville district at the intersection of Webb and West River roads.

The new system was originally supposed to come online in January, but instead, the town has continued to rely on the 40-year-old existing system, which is no longer licensed by the state.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

[email protected]

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