The completed sewer line in Vassalboro connects customers’ lines to the Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District in Waterville via Winslow. Morning Sentinel file photo

After five years of planning, fundraising and work, Vassalboro’s nearly $8 million sewer main project is now complete.

“It’s been done, and now it’s functioning,” said Ray Breton, chairperson of the Vassalboro Sanitary District Board of Trustees. The group of five trustees oversaw the project.

“It protects the environment, and it puts the town in a good position going forward,” said Vassalboro Town Manager Mary Sabins, who is not a part of the Vassalboro Sanitary District’s Board of Trustees.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection regulates the levels of phosphorous in sanitation, and in 2015, Vassalboro’s did not meet requirements. The utility had two options, to update a degrading sand bed filter system or start anew.

After consulting with engineer Richard Green from Yarmouth-based Hoyle, Tanner & Associates and Chuck Applebee of  Wiscasset’s Water Quality and Compliance Inc., the board of trustees decided to go with a new system. With the new sewer system complete, all the filtering beds are gone, and now collection stations pump to a site near the Vassalboro Community Center.

Dan Marks of Hoyle, Tanner & Associates was the engineer of record for the project. Ranger Contracting Inc. of Fairfield did the physical construction.

“It was a super interesting project and the district was kind of in a tough spot with old infrastructure and an increasing regulatory compliance issue,” Marks said. “I’m happy the way it turned out.”

The agreement with the engineer was signed in March 2014, but the project did not break ground until 2019.

Applebee’s company helped secure funding. He and his company are also the licensed wastewater operators for the project.

“I work for the board of trustees, but I’m also the direct operator of the system,” Applebee said. “Myself and my staff maintain and operate the system.”

The system runs through Vassalboro’s East Village up Main Street and state Route 32 to Winslow’s Dunbar Street, where the sewage then goes into Winslow’s system. One of the board of trustees members, Lee Trahan, is a Winslow resident and also serves on the Winslow Town Council. Winslow and Vassalboro came to an agreement to connect the sewage to Waterville’s Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District.

The other members of the Vassalboro Sanitary District Board of Trustees include Alfred Roy, Paul Mitnik and Rebecca Goodrich.

In the late 1970s, residents of Vassalboro were elected to be trustees, but eventually, the board of trustees became its own entity. It is not a town department, but a group of volunteers. The board appoints its own members, which Vassalboro townspeople and the board agreed to in a new charter in 2017.

The system accommodates 195 households with room for about 30 more.

Funding for the project came from a variety of grants. The board of trustees anticipates applying for more grants to help as more households get on the system. Nearly $4.5 million in grant money was collected. Money also came from a Vassalboro TIF account and the remainder came from loans.

“I thank everybody for all of the time and effort they put in to put this together,” Breton said. “Without those others, we would’ve been blind to the whole thing. It’s done. It’s cleaned up and all the beds are gone and buried.”

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