ELLSWORTH, Maine — City councilors on Monday voted to spend $102,200 to design a storm water sewer system to deal with water problems on several side streets off eastern Main Street.
Jim Wilson, from Woodard and Curran, has been working with the city on the project and explained that the overall project would target the area on Main Street east of High Street to resolve long-standing water problems on Carlisle, Spencer and Fletcher streets and McDonald Avenue.
The problem, Wilson said, is that the storm water sewer lines in the area are old and no longer can handle the water flows in that area; they back up and cellars in that area fill with water.
Wilson’s initial work has involved identifying the best route for the new lines that would have the capacity to handle storm water flows. He rejected running lines down Main Street to tie into lines installed by the Maine Department of Transportation when they rebuilt Main Street. The DOT, he said, would not allow any increase in the flow through those existing lines.
He recommended running a new line down Church Street where it could tie into an existing 36-inch line at the City Hall parking lot. Using the Church Street corridor, he said, not only would take care of existing storm water but also would allow for at least a 10 percent increase in capacity to handle future development in the area.
That route also may be able to pick up additional storm water in the area around Maine Coast Memorial Hospital on Union Street. The targeted side streets run between Main and Union streets.
Residents from the area urged councilors to move ahead with the project as quickly as possible, citing not only drainage problems, but problems with some of the roads themselves.
Council Chair John Phillips assured them the city was working toward a solution.
“Things are not good, we know that and we are working to deal with it,” he said.
Councilors were interested in the possibility of gaining more capacity than the 10 percent increase, and Gary Fortier asked what it would take to bump that up to 20 percent. Wilson noted there are several things that could be done, including increasing storage capacity at the City Hall parking lot. Existing storage underneath the parking lot could be expanded.
The city is seeking grant funding for a number of downtown projects, including improvements to the two parking lots at City Hall. City Manager Michelle Beal said that adding storm water storage capacity could be added to that project.
Wilson estimated it would cost $2.2 million for the project as proposed. It would cost about half that amount to build the project from City Hall to the intersection of McKenzie and Union streets. To extend the first phase to Carlisle Street would cost an additional $300,000.
Adding additional capacity could cost the city an estimated $150,000 more.
Wilson still needs to conduct some survey work in the area before beginning the design. The full design should be completed within two or three months, he said.