OXFORD — Incremental progress on the town’s sewage treatment plant is being made, but workers might not break ground on the project until the end of the year, according to the engineer in charge of the work. 

Brent Bridges, a senior vice president with Portland engineering firm Woodard and Curran, told selectmen at their Thursday meeting that bids for the components of the new treatment plant should be returned by early October. 

The town plans to build a state-of-the art sewage treatment plant at Welchville Dam, near the intersection of Routes 26 and 121, and run a sewer line north and south along the town’s Tax Increment Financing District on Route 26.

The proposed treatment facility uses a series of fine screens, or membranes, to slough off solids before treating the remaining waste with UV light instead of a conventional chemical treatment.

Oxford Town Manager Michael Chammings has previously said Oxford will be the first Maine municipality to construct a system of this type.

The second phase of the plan calls for the extension of sewer lines into the residential areas of north and central Oxford. 

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At the meeting, Bridges said a discharge permit application from Maine Department of Environmental Protection had been submitted but was determined to be incomplete, because the exact dimensions of the pipes and other discharge components would not be known until the town had a final design for the project. 

That final design, however, will be determined by what equipment vendor the selectmen decide to go with, Bridges explained. 

Because the technology used in the proposed facility is specialized, much of it will need to be made to order, he told the board. Depending on which vendor the selectmen choose, the dimensions of the final plan might need to be altered slightly to accommodate the equipment. 

“Once you figure out which system you’re going to use, you can design the building,” Selectman Scott Owens said. 

DEP encouraged Woodard and Curran to submit its permit application, even though the company warned department representatives that it wasn’t complete, Bridges said. 

As soon as the designs were finalized, the permit application could be resubmitted and the department wouldn’t need to take as much time to review it, he suggested. 

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He estimated that a review of the bids would be complete by late October and the town could put out bids for construction of the plant by November.

Construction could continue through the winter and the plant should be finished by mid spring, Bridges told the board.

The town was also moving forward with the purchase of several small parcels of land along the proposed sewer line so it could install pump stations, Chammings said.

Although the stations could be placed within the right of way of Route 26, installing them on town property removed the possibility they would be too close to crash barriers or complicate road maintenance, he told the board. 

The town is looking to buy three very small parcels from private owners who were very cooperative, Chammings said. 

Although the full project imagines both phases, Bridges said the most pressing project was the plant and extending sewer lines north and south on Route 26. 

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The town should find out if it will receive money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency for the project in October, when the agency’s funding cycle will restart, Bridges said.

That funding could determine whether the town goes further than the first phase of the project, Chammings suggested. 

“We’re financially set to do Phase I,” Chammings said. “The only reason we do Phase II is if we come up with the funding.”

Outside the meeting, Bridges admitted that breaking ground on the project was delayed from its original June timetable, but said it was still on track. 

If funding becomes available and all goes according to plan, the first phase should be complete by April or May, he said, and the entire two-phase layout could be finished by November 2014.

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