Norway wastewater plant wins award for excellence

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NORWAY — The Norway Wastewater Treatment Plant has been lauded for its excellence by the Maine Rural Water Association.

The private, nonprofit organization helps rural water and wastewater systems provide safe drinking water and protect the environment at an affordable cost to users. It presented plant Superintendent Shawn Brown with an award at its annual meeting in Bangor on Thursday.

He was accompanied by Norway Town Manager David Holt, Administrative Assistant Carol Millett, Town Clerk Shirley Boyce, fire Chief Dennis Yates and Highway Foreman Jim Tibbetts.

The plant went online in 1965 with two 7-foot-deep lagoons of about seven acres each on Brown Street behind Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. Officials say since that time the facility has been upgraded and improved by innovative operational and financial planning, including the installation of the first photovoltaic-powered wastewater circulators in the state.

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“I know the selectboard is very proud of the work that Shawn has done over the years,” Holt said. “He has saved the citizens many thousands of dollars by his use of solar power at the plant, by avoiding expanding the lagoons, by getting the stormwater out of the system and by being frugal in his day-to-day approach to his responsibilities.”

Holt said Brown and his co-worker Mitch Morrissette provide around-the-clock, on-call service. “The town is fortunate to have them,” he said.

In presenting the award to Brown, Janet Abrahamson of Maine Rural Water said the “community shows that with determination even through tough economic times, projects can be accomplished.”

In 2007, the town was the first to install Solar Bee photovoltaic-powered wastewater circulators. The units saved the town $37,000 in its energy bill within a couple of years. With that savings, the town installed another set of solar energy devices in 2010 using an $85,000 state grant to buy the units.

The Solar Bee units use energy from the sun to power the plant’s wastewater circulators.

The Solar Bee, which operates day and night, via batteries, cuts energy consumption by reducing aeration/mixing equipment run time, according to information from the company.

Abrahamson noted the various upgrades and improvements include the Solar Bees and implementation, including a grit chamber, aeration separation and bar rack in 1982, plus storage lagoons with surface aerators to store water during the summer in 1990.

Norway has been resourceful in obtaining funding of projects by actively seeking grants from Efficiency Maine and the Public Utilities Commission and through USDA Rural Development and Maine Municipal Bond Banks Funds, Abrahamson said.

Abrahamson also cited other actions the plant officials have taken, including providing for system growth by repairing and improving older sewer lines to reduce significant inflow and infiltration, plus the town’s commitment to a capital improvement budget of $30,000 each year for projects. Additionally, a sludge reserve is set aside for future sludge removal and for a Wastewater Department truck, she noted.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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