PITTSFIELD, Maine — Town councilors questioned their confidence in Acheron Engineering of Newport’s advice Tuesday night, when the company apparently reversed its recommendation for sludge removal at the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
Assistant Water Superintendent Scott Noble told the council that at a meeting last week with Acheron and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, air drying the sludge was no longer considered the primary option for the facility and that geotubes were the solution chosen.
Noble explained that a geotube is like a nylon sock. “We would pump the sludge in and the water seeps out,” he said. The tubes then could be transported for disposal using town trucks.
Holding up a copy of a report issued by Acheron on possible options for Pittsfield’s sludge removal, however, Councilor Donna Chale read that “geotubes would not reach the desired dryness.”
Chale said, “I don’t mind making a decision on this but we need to have accurate information.”
“I don’t understand this 360-degree turn from our last meeting with Acheron,” Councilor Wayne Fotter said.
Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said the meeting with Acheron and DEP was “very eye-opening” and that more research needed to be done.
The sludge has been piling up at the treatment facility for 30 years and although mechanical removal would be the most efficient and quickest, it also is the most expensive, Ruth said.
“We have the largest lagoons in the New England area,” she said. Mechanical removal was estimated to cost $9 million.
She said solar drying was removed from the list because of Maine’s unpredictable weather conditions.
Noble said he will research the feasibility of the geotubes for Maine’s climate as well as projected costs and bring the information to the next council meeting.
In other business, the council ratified an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Brownfields Cleanup Grant for a property on Mount Road. This agreement increases the federal share of the project from $40,000 to $110,000, bringing the total project to $132,000.
The council also:
ä Approved a proposal by Evolo Energy Solutions of Newport for a $60,165 wind turbine to be installed at the town’s transfer station and recycling center.
ä Approved bid specifications for two projects: a water pump installation for Pittsfield Water Works and engineering for the Pittsfield Industrial Park expansion. This project is being funded through federal stimulus funds. Of the $103,000 costs, $73,000 will be borrowed at zero percent and the $30,000 principal match will be forgiven, Ruth said.
ä Approved negotiations for the town’s oil, propane and kerosene needs.
ä Approved offering, first come, first served, a free ice cream freezer and piano from the Pittsfield Community Theater.