LIMESTONE, Maine — Senior environmental officials from state and federal agencies were in Limestone last week to check out a project being touted for its environmental and economic benefits.
The Limestone Water and Sewer District recently completed a $21 million upgrade at what is now the Greater Limestone Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Officials used federal, state and local funding to combine the aging Loring and Limestone wastewater treatment facilities into one state-of-the-art facility. Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was in Aroostook County to tour the facility last week.
The project eliminates outfall discharges to Little Madawaska Stream and Limestone Stream by allowing the combined facilities to convey effluent over three miles to the Aroostook River, which is able to handle the capacity. The updated wastewater infrastructure is necessary to support businesses and job creation at the Loring Commerce Center, a 3,800-acre commercial, industrial and aviation park in Limestone.
The 16-month construction project already has created nearly 300 jobs and the Loring Development Authority, which manages the commerce center, expects hundreds of permanent jobs to be created now that industries such as potato processing plants can use the business park.
Funding for the project was provided through an $11.3 million loan and grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program, a $5.3 million Maine Department of Environmental Protection grant, and more than $4 million from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
A number of energy efficiency upgrades to the plant will save an estimated $37,000 a year.
Virginia Manuel, the USDA Rural Development state director who accompanied Spalding to The County, noted that the implementation of the new wastewater infrastructure “helps sustain the conversion of a major military base to civilian uses.”
Spalding lauded the partnership between state and federal governments, saying that the EPA was “very proud” of the work done in Limestone.
Spalding’s three-day visit to The County was cut short because of Hurricane Irene. While in The County, he also visited the Presque Isle Drinking Water Facility.