LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen, in their capacity as sewer trustees, learned Monday that an in-line channel grinder needs to be replaced at the wastewater treatment plant.
It is estimated to cost $200,000 or more for a bar screen and a building to cover it. The device would remove any rags and large solids to ¼ inch that would come through the wastewater flow.
The fix and other repairs needed means there could possibly be another sewer user fee hike. Just a quick observation and Town Manager Kristal Flagg said she sees at least a 30 percent increase.
Expenses are more than the revenues coming in, she said. The department has been operating at a loss since 2004, Selectman Louise Chabot said in 2009.
Board Chairman Bill Demaray said the town has been foreclosing on properties due to unpaid sewer fees. He doesn't know if raising the rates is a good idea, he said. He requested more information so selectmen could see some options.
In 2010, sewer users saw two hikes in their rates. The fee set then is a base sewer rate of $55 per quarter and 4.3 cents per cubic foot of water used. Sewer users would foot the bill for Livermore Falls' share of the repair.
Selectmen plan to review rates at their meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, at the Town Office.
A lot of rocks and sand go through the grinder, nicknamed the Muffin Monster, and damages the equipment during the treatment process, Sewer Department Superintendent Greg Given said.
The equipment was fixed three years ago at a cost of $22,000, Flagg said.
She recommended that whatever is done that they don’t go with this type of equipment again.
Selectman Louise Chabot asked Flagg what the town of Jay says about the repair.
She has been in contact with Jay Town Manager Ruth Cushman and given her an update and selectmen there are on board with the repair, Flagg said.
The original plant was built in the mid-1970s. It underwent a $5.8 million upgrade and went back online in the spring of 2000. It was originally slated to last 20 years and the upgrade was to extend its life another 20 years.
Livermore Falls owns the plant. The two towns split the operation and maintenance cost based on wastewater flow.
The percentage based on flow that was set earlier this year, has Jay paying 54 percent and Livermore Falls paying 46 percent of the operation and maintenance. The repair cost will be paid for based on those percentages.
Wastewater flow in Jay is measured by a metering pit in that town prior to it arriving at the plant in Livermore Falls.
Flagg said there is $100,000 in a reserve account for the plant that belongs to Livermore Falls and Jay.
“If we use all of that we have nothing left” to handle any more repairs, she said.
Steve Broadbent of Weston & Sampson Engineers Inc. said there will be applications available for Community Development Block Grants that could bring in funds to help offset the cost of repairs. The grants are very competitive, he said.
There would be a 20 percent match, Flagg said.
The New Hampshire firm has not been hired to assist the town. Broadbent is trying to get the town going in the right direction, she said.
In order to apply for the grant, Flagg and Given will attend training at the end of November.
Applications are due in January and grants are expected to be awarded next spring.
The plant is also undergoing a primary gear drive replacement, among other work.
NOTE: This story was modified since it was published Wednesday to reflect that Livermore Falls owns the entire wastewater treatment plant. It was a reporting error.