WATERVILLE, Maine — An estimated 19 million gallons of sewage has spilled into the Kennebec River following a sewer main break in Waterville.
Work is underway on Water Street to repair the sewer main break that was reported the day after Thanksgiving.
At this point, officials say sewage is no longer flowing into the Kennebec River, but the DEP continues to monitor the situation.
Tim LeVasseur, who heads the Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District, thought a fix would take two days. It’s now approaching two weeks.
“It took time,” LeVasseur said. “That’s what’s maddening about this, time. It’s taken a lot of effort.”
As crews worked their way to the pipe, they ran into a massive block of concrete.
Once they jack hammered through it, he says, they found their sewer pipe, right on top of a storm water drain.
“It appears someone made a judgment call in the early 1970s to cut away that storm line and nestle in our force main in it, and attempt to seal it with products then ultimately tomb, I guess is the right word, cased the whole system,” LeVasseur said.
LeVasseur says the district had no idea.
He estimates the repairs could total $150,000 and believes they can do it without passing costs onto the communities they serve.
“Very concerned about the environment and cost, but we know we have to do the right thing,” LeVasseur said. “We’re taking care of business.”
The DEP estimates 19.2 million gallons of sewage leaked into the Kennebec before a temporary bypass system was installed.
“We believe there is currently no bacteriological exposure risk due to limited use of the river at this time, however this incident highlights the critical need to address the state’s aging wastewater infrastructure in the near future,” a DEP spokesperson said.
Levasseur expects this work to wrap up over the next few days, hopefully with traffic back to normal on Saturday.