OAKLAND — Local residents may not notice the difference at the business end, but the contents of a toilet flushed today will wind up somewhere very different from the destination of what was flushed yesterday.

That’s because yesterday afternoon, a $6 million sewage system project begun in 2009 finally became operational, after facing enough red tape to clog a drain.

“We’re online and we’re using the new system,” Dan Bolduc, sewage treatment plant director announced late Monday afternoon.

The system was completed in January, but a 1,700-foot section didn’t work and had to be replaced, touching off months of negotiations among the town, the project designer, the water district and the contractor.

All four parties assumed some responsibility, according to Town Manager Peter Nielsen.

For the last three weeks, excavating contractor Pratt and Sons of Mechanic Falls has been working to replace two existing 6-inch pipes with a single 12-inch pipe needed to conduct the 700 gallons per minute used during peak demand.

The treated sewage had been discharged into an impounded area of Messalonskee Stream. Now the sewage will be piped instead to Waterville’s Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District ; ultimately, it will be treated and discharged into the Kennebec River.

Bolduc said the treatment plant in Oakland is as good at treating water as the Waterville district, but that the Kennebec River is better able to handle discharge.

“Messalonskee was classified as what they call a great pond,” Bolduc said. “Kennebec River’s a little bigger.”

While the treatment plant in Oakland won’t treat the town’s wastewater actively anymore, Bolduc said that it would still serve various important functions.

For example, in April, when Bolduc expects that the town will exceed the million-gallon-a-day capacity of the byway to Waterville, the plant’s storage tanks will be used to hold the overage.

Bolduc said the Oakland treatment plant used to employ two people. One has retired recently, and Bolduc will stay on as the sole worker.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.