BREWER, Maine — The banks of the Penobscot River have been slowly eroding over the past century and have started to threaten the city’s wastewater treatment plant, city leaders say.
To combat the shoreline erosion, city officials applied for federal stimulus funds earlier this year to replace the old deteriorating wooden timber cribwork. They found out this week that Brewer has been awarded $3,150,000.
“It’s failing,” Karen Fussell, Brewer’s finance director, said Tuesday. “We’ve been losing shoreline [and] we’re starting to see some undercutting” around portions of the sewer treatment facility.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded money to nine projects across the country, and Brewer was given a $1,375,000 grant and a low-interest loan of $1,775,000.
USDA said the project is designed to make sure the city’s wastewater treatment plant remains in good working order as well as protecting the Penobscot River and surrounding community.
“It’s great news,” City Manager Steve Bost said.
The shoreline stabilization work needs to be done, and without the federal money residents would have had to pay the bill, he said.
The grant will pay for almost 44 percent of the total project costs, and the interest rate for the loan is 3.375 percent for a 29-year term, Fussell said.
“This is very good news for our sewer ratepayers,” she said. “Our sewer rates are quite high. This funding is going to go a very long way to stabilize our sewer rate while still addressing the issues at the treatment plant.”
The funding is a part of the USDA’s Rural Development water and environmental program, which awarded $16.4 million to the nine projects across the county.
The shoreline stabilization work is expected to begin sometime next year.
“We’re very happy with the announcement,” Fussell said. “We’re looking forward to getting this project done.”