LIMESTONE, Maine — An eight-year, $23.4 million project slated to cut costs, contribute to a cleaner environment and potentially spark economic development was celebrated in Limestone last week.
Officials from the Greater Limestone Regional Wastewater Treatment Facilities joined representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Maine Department of Environmental Protection, town officials and others on Sept. 20 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the treatment facility on Plant Road.
The project consolidated two treatment plants into one facility that is much more efficient.
The multifaceted project involved numerous additional partners, including the Limestone Water and Sewer District and the Loring Development Authority.
Virginia Manuel, USDA Rural Development state director, said during a recent interview that the project involved multiple phases and financial contributions from local, state and federal agencies. The bulk of the money, $11.3 million, came from USDA Rural Development, and the DEP chipped in $9.3 million, while smaller contributions came from other partners.
Now that the work is completed, the new facility will ensure the complete elimination of effluent into the Limestone Stream, Little Madawaska River and Greenlaw Brook, thereby improving water quality for native Atlantic salmon and other aquatic life. The new facility also contains energy-efficient equipment and buildings, including a solar photovoltaic panel. The energy efficiency upgrades to the plant will save an estimated $37,000 per year for the facility.
Manuel said that designers concentrated on creating a facility that rerouted water and wastewater away from the nearby rivers and streams to create a more pristine environment.
“This is one of the most exciting systems in the state due to how large it is, the rerouting of the wastewater and the vision of those involved,” Manuel said. “It has given the Loring Development Authority and the old [Loring Air Force] base more capacity to meet their business needs.”
The revamped facility will help attract new business to the area, according to LDA and city and economic development officials, because the capacity is now in place to accommodate a business that would use a lot of water, such as an agricultural processing facility.
“That will definitely help in recruitment for them to be able to say that they can now deal with the requirements that such a business would ask for,” Manuel said. “Everyone involved is very excited about this project, and it was great to see it completed.”