June 18, 2018
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Orono steps back from Old Town composting agreement, sends sludge to Juniper Ridge

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — The town’s sludge that once went to a jointly-run composting facility in neighboring Old Town is now going to Juniper Ridge Landfill in order to save money.

“I’m anticipating a saving of $30,000 over last year,” Joe Madigan, Orono Water Pollution Control Facility director, said Thursday. “To a municipality, that is pretty significant.”

The revenue-saving change was made when it was discovered last year that the jointly run Old Town composting facility, located on Gilman Falls Avenue across from the Old Town Transfer Station, was at capacity and Juniper Ridge was offering a comparable rate.

“I budget $75,000 for sludge disposal,” Madigan said Friday.

The partnership between the two communities was established years ago “to handle the communities’ sludge — the byproduct of the waste water treatment plant,” Town Manager Sophie Wilson said Thursday.

The composting facility is still open, but since Orono’s 1,200 cubic yards of sludge is heading to the landfill, the agreement between the two communities had to be modified, which was done at Wednesday’s Orono council meeting.

The partnership will remain, but Old Town will be the sole operator of the composting facility and will keep any revenues.

The approximately $300,000 in the reserve fund will be split between Orono and Old Town, with 55 percent heading to Orono and the rest going to Old Town, Wilson said.

Some money will be left in the fund, Madigan said.

“We’re going to leave $100,000 in case we have to start it back up,” he said.

During the council meeting, the panel also discussed redistricting voting wards and voted to hold a public hearing Monday on the matter. The proposal is to remove Ward 2 and redraw the lines for the remaining two wards to follow the newly drawn boundary between House District 123 and 124 along Bennoch Road, Noyes Drive and Pleasant Street.

“This is really a proposal to gain efficiencies and to make it easier for the public,” Wilson said.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers.

Correction: An earlier version of this story carried an incorrect headline. Orono is sending, not selling, sludge to Juniper Ridge.

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