Fresh water started flowing through a new water line in Brewer this week.

According to City Engineer Frank Higgins, construction began in early September “on a new 12-inch water line” that “runs all the way out Green Point Road and down Elm Street to Parkway South.” The contractor, Lou Silver Inc. of Veazie, finished the project earlier this month.

The project entailed running the water line beneath Interstate 395, but city planners anticipated such a possibility in the mid-1980s. “When they built the interstate. they installed a couple of concrete casements [alongside the Green Point Road overpass]. I call them ‘concrete casings,’” Higgins said. “They were put in [beneath I-395] for future water and sewer [line extensions].

“There were two casings installed: a 36-inch and a 24-inch,” he said. “We used the 36-inch. All we had to do was find the ends and thread a pipe through one of them.”

Higgins indicated that Lou Silver Inc. “averaged about a dozen people [working on the project] for most of the fall. There were some subcontractors involved that were there for very short periods of time.”

The project cost “just over $2 million,” including “roughly $1.25 million” in “high priority federal funding,” Higgins said. “The city added to that about $1 million of its own capital money.”

Extending “just under 2 miles,” the water line will serve existing businesses and residences. The contractor installed about 50 services, including some to potential house lots. Houses along the Green Point Road and Elm Street currently draw water from private wells; except for 16 houses on Elm Street that will be connected immediately to the new water line, Higgins was not sure how many other building owners will also connect to it.

“Whether or not people choose to hook up, that is up to them,” he said.

However, “there are 16 homes out here that had contaminated wells, allegedly [caused by seepage] from the [municipal] landfill,” Higgins said. “That has not been proven.

“The city has taken the position that we’re going to provide these people with water … at no cost to them,” he said. Brewer has provided bottled drinking water to these homes for some years, he indicated.

With water-line construction completed earlier this month, the new line was pressure-tested on Dec. 21. The line was disinfected over Christmas weekend, then completely flushed before going into service this week. The city planned to start connecting houses to the water line “right after Christmas,” Higgins said.

First on the list are the 16 houses with contaminated wells. “We will hook them up at no charge,” and Brewer “will pay those houses’ minimum water bills for five years,” he said.

Brewer did not extend a sewer across the Green Point Road “because of the layout of the existing [sewer] system,” Higgins said. “Development on the Orrington side of the interstate would connect to the sewer on Elm Street. It almost comes all the way out to the landfill now.”

The water-line project “went really well. There really weren’t a lot of problems. The biggest issue was traffic control; these are narrow roads with fairly high usage for commuting in the morning,” Higgins said.

The new water line will also service the future Brewer Business and Commerce Park, slated to be developed in stages behind the municipal landfill, he indicated. “There’s a lot of wetland out there, but there is a significant amount of upland. The layouts we are doing for the park, we are working around the wetlands.

“There’s certainly room for a good-sized business park,” Higgins said. City planners anticipate having 30 to 40 lots available, long-term. These would be 2-, 3-, 4-acre lots.

“We’ll be doing this in phases,” he said, referring to the business park’s development. “It abuts Orrington. We’ve had discussions with Orrington about doing a combined project here,” but no joint plans exist at this time.