WINSLOW — A vital infrastructure renovation project has been put on pause again, officials in Winslow announced Monday, after the town’s Chaffee Brook pumping station sustained severe damage during last December’s floods.

The station handles all of Winslow’s untreated sewage, pumping it beneath the Kennebec River to Waterville’s Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District through a single pipe. The pumping station was built in 1970 and has not been updated since 1998.

Renovations began in November but were paused after the station flooded during the Dec. 18 storm. While officials had previously expected work to resume in the summer, Town Manager Ella Bowman said at the council’s meeting Monday night that the project has been delayed longer than expected due to an unexpectedly extensive permitting process.

“Unfortunately, we discovered that we have to go through the entire permitting process again, which is probably going to come at a little additional cost,” she said. “It’s probably going to be pushed back until September or October.”

The $8 million renovation project will replace generators, pipes, pumps, electrical work and nearly every aspect of the station.

When the December storm hit, Winslow Public Works Director Paul Fongemie said crews had begun drilling beneath the Kennebec River using an excavator floating atop a barge to replace the pipe beneath the water.


Chaffee Brook suffered extensive damage during the December storm, Fongemie said, with roughly 12 feet of water inundating the station and backup power generators eventually running out of fuel after several days without power.

Construction workers had to relocate all of their equipment to higher ground. The replacement pipe they were installing beneath the river had filled with more than an inch and a half of sediment, Fongemie said, and the pad carrying the excavator was lost to the river.

“The contractor at Chaffee Brook has removed the pipe from the river and stored it onsite,” Fongemie said in his monthly report to the council. “They have removed their barge and have hauled all their equipment to their home base. We are presently in talks with the regulatory agencies to obtain a new permit for the river crossing.”

When work begins again, Fongemie said it is slated to continue through 2025.

The council approved $6.8 million in bonds to finance the project after having applied for them in February last year, Bowman announced.

“This will upgrade the pump station facility itself by protecting and upgrading the pumps from future flooding and upgrading the genset,” she said in her monthly report.


Officials have previously emphasized the importance of the project, citing both environmental and residential concerns. Fongemie said in October that were the pipe beneath the river to fail or the station to flood, millions of gallons of sewage could spill into the Kennebec, similar to a 2019 incident in Waterville.

Representatives from Wright-Pierce, the engineering firm overseeing the project, said during a November 2023 council meeting that the station experiences three or four overflow events annually, in which up to 300,000 gallons of mixed sewage spills into the Kennebec River during times of flooding or high rainfall. Fongemie said the updates are necessary to prevent such events.

Sewage from the station was pumped directly into the Kennebec River before the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972.

In October, before Bowman’s appointment to town manager and half of the current councilors’ elections, the Town Council voted unanimously to add about $1.3 million to the project’s budget, citing regulatory requirements, aging infrastructure and flooding concerns.

The problem is that the pump station is in a floodplain, and as the Kennebec River rises, it gets into those pumps and it causes a failure,” Bowman said at Monday’s council meeting. “When that happens, you’re pumping a lot of raw sewage into the Kennebec River, which is just not permissible.”

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