OXFORD — Construction on a $20 million wastewater treatment facility and sewer system could begin as early as this fall, Town Manager Michael Chammings said Wednesday.

“It’s the first of its kind in Maine,” Chammings said. “I’ve got other towns and cities calling me about this system.”

Plans call for a new membrane filtration system to be constructed in a plant in Welchville Village, near the intersection of routes 121 and 26.

The first phase will connect with new sewer lines stretching for roughly six miles along Route 26, beginning at the Mechanic Falls line.

It will connect to the Oxford Casino and a planned hotel and restaurant project, slated to be built across the road from the casino. A second phase would connect the new lines all the way to Walmart, just north of Ipswich Circle on Route 26.

The completed work would make utilities available to the entire commercial corridor.

And the expense will eventually be covered by town income from the Oxford Casino, Chammings said.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has approved a $13.7 million loan for the project, DEP spokeswoman Jessamine Logan said.

The town hopes to receive millions more in revenue from USDA Rural Development grants. Annual property tax income from the casino would be used to make payments on the loan.

The town has hired a pair of firms to begin doing work along the roadside.

Main-Land Development Consultants of Livermore Falls was hired to survey the area and conduct borings and probes of the land. Power Engineers Inc. of Freeport was awarded a contract to do an archaeological survey of the area. Over the next few weeks, the town plans to select sites for pumping stations.

Chammings believes the finished system will be a showpiece of its kind.

Usually, wastewater is treated with chlorine and a variety of other chemicals. Instead, this system grinds up the waste and sends it through the same kind of system used aboard Navy vessels and cruise ships. The waste is exposed to ultraviolet light and its air is pushed through charcoal filters.

“You can stand right beside it and not smell a thing,” he said. “You walk through to the other side, open it up and you have drinkable water.”

“You don’t need to (further) treat it,” he said.

The town has applied for a DEP permit to discharge the waste into the Little Androscoggin River, Logan said. If a draft permit is issued, the town will have 30 days to gather public comment.

If the permit is granted, the state will inspect the plant and monitor its discharge into the river, which runs into the Androscoggin River in Auburn.

“We hope the pipes will be connected and operating by March,” Chammings said.

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