ELLSWORTH — City councilors voted unanimously on Monday to award a contract to Bangor-based firm Woodard & Curran to design and engineer an upgrade aimed at fixing issues with a pump station on Water Street that handles roughly two-thirds of the city’s sewage.
“The issue that we’re having there is in the springtime when you have a perfect storm of warm weather, rain, snowmelt, it overwhelms that pump station for short periods of time, maybe once a year, and it discharges out of the manhole there,” said Wastewater Superintendent Michael Harris.
“The DEP (Maine Department of Environmental Protection) is requiring us to stop that from happening.”
The entire project, for which the city received a $500,000 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission, will likely cost roughly $1.5 million when all is said and done.
This pump station then conveys sewage to the main pump station and then onto the plant.
“The idea — and part of their proposal — was that they would start design as soon as possible, in the hopes of doing construction actually this winter,” said Public Works Director Lisa Sekulich. “So that we have the new upgraded pump station hopefully by spring when we see our highest flows.”
Engineering costs typically run between 12 and 15 percent of construction costs, said Sekulich, so $183,000 is “a reasonable dollar amount for a project of this size.”
The city completed construction on a $21-million wastewater treatment plant on the Bayside Road in late 2012, replacing the treatment plant on Water Street, which was damaged in a fire in 2002. But the Water Street pump station still handles roughly two-thirds of the city’s wastewater, said Harris, before it’s pumped to the new Bayside Road complex.
There won’t be any interruption in services during the upgrades, said Harris.
“We will be bringing in portable pumps that will connect to the current wet well and pump around the station. Once that is in place, we can do whatever we need to do with the pump station and the pumps.”