OXFORD — Three bids to provide equipment for the town’s planned sewage treatment plant were unsealed at the Town Office on Thursday afternoon. 

The planned state-of-the-art 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.

Vendors bidding on the project will provide the membrane filtration system housed in the sewer plant. The base bids do not reflect the additional bids companies put in for possible expansion of the system.

GE Water and Process Technology of Oakville, Ontario, submitted the highest bid of $1,422,950. The second highest was from Koch Membranes Systems of Rockland, Mass., for $1,281,950; Ovivo of Austin, Texas, bid $1,248,763.

According to Brent Bridges, a vice president from Woodard and Curran, the engineering firm working with the town on the project, the bid prices are close to what the company projected. 

Woodard and Curran still needs to conduct a full operational cost review on the bids to determine which system will ultimately be the most efficient.

The least-expensive system to build and install may still be more expensive to run and maintain, Bridges explained.

The town still needs to select a vendor to provide the system before it can submit final building designs, including discharge pipe dimensions and other specifics, to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. 

Woodard and Curran intend to review the bids, which run into the hundreds of pages, and return to the board by next week with a tentative recommendation. Bridges expects that a vendor will be chosen to present details of their proposal to the selectmen. 

Last December, voters approved borrowing up to $20.2 million to finance the construction of the sewage treatment plant and the installation of sewer lines through sections of the town. 

Town Manager Michael Chammings has said that federal and state grants, user fees and funding from the town’s Tax Increment Financing district will be used to pay down the loan. 

The first phase of the project, which includes building the plant at the Welchville Dam intersection and running sewer lines north and south along Route 26 through the town’s TIF zone, is expected to be completed next spring.

The town has yet to determine when or if it will pursue the project’s second phase, to run sewer lines farther north on Route 26 and through residential neighborhoods. 

Groundbreaking on the project is expected in late autumn. 

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