HALLOWELL — Officials from the city of Hallowell and the Greater Augusta Utility District are asking in-town Hallowell residents to clarify whether their properties have stormwater drain connections to Hallowell’s sewer system.

If that’s the case, property owners are being advised to take action to fix that ahead of the planned reconstruction of Water Street next year.

If they don’t, they may find water backing up into their basements after the project is completed, Hallowell City Manager Nate Rudy said.

For nearly two years, the city, the Hallowell Water District, the Greater Augusta Utility District and the Maine Department of Transportation have been planning the scope and range of the Water Street replacement project. In addition to re-engineering Water Street to remove the crown in the road among other things, discussions have been ongoing on improving drainage at the same time.

In May, the utility district sent letters to nearly 60 owners of property on Water Street and uphill from there between Temple and Winthrop streets and along part of Middle Street to schedule appointments to inspect existing sewer connections and to ensure no building drains connect with the sewer system.

The deadline for scheduling those inspections was June 9.

On Friday, Rudy said a little more than one-third of the property owners had responded, so he has sent out a second invitation to set up appointments. He said he’s hoping more property owners respond and schedule inspections.

“Back in the day, sewers and stormwater went to the same place,” Rudy said. But now, the practice is to separate those flows and prevent stormwater runoff making its way via sump pumps, roof drains or any other arrangement to the sewer system for treatment.

“They can avoid some tremendous cost and damage by doing something now,” he said.

If those connections are severed during the construction project, that can result in basements filling up with stormwater that doesn’t have any place to go, he said.

And once the construction project is done, a five-year moratorium on digging up the streets is expected, he said.

If no connections are found, he said, property owners won’t be required to do anything else.

“It’s a great opportunity and we want to make sure no one misses out,” Brian Tarbuck, general manager of the Greater Augusta Utility District, said. “If you own a property on Water Street, there’s no detriment to having the storm water connection installed now. It’s a once in a lifetime chance.”

If property owners have stormwater pipes in their basements, Tarbuck said, they may be able to connect to the drainage infrastructure that’s being installed as part of the reconstruction project.

“You would have to do the last little bit to the property line,” Tarbuck said, adding that in some cases, that’s not a great distance from the building.

Engineers working on the reconstruction project for the Department of Transportation are anxious to have the information as soon as they can, he said.

The inspection is free, but staff time is limited, Tarbuck said.

To schedule an appointment, call the district at 622-3701 or email [email protected]

“We just don’t want anybody to be surprised,” Rudy said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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