CASCO — Voters in Casco and Otisfield are expected to vote in June on spending between $400,000 and $500,000 to repair the Pleasant Lake dam in Casco.

The Casco town meeting will be held Wednesday, June 15; Otisfield will meet Saturday, June 25. 

Each town would be responsible for half of the costs of the shared project, but the exact amount will not be known until bids are opened Monday, May 16, and one is accepted. Bids are due at the Casco Town Office by 4:30 p.m. on May 16.

If approved by voters in each town, the money will address the final design and engineering costs. Construction is planned for this fall.
 
In the interim, officials say water levels will be held about 8 inches lower than target levels to relieve pressure on the dam.
 
Casco and Otisfield selectmen received a report from the Maine Emergency Management Agency in 2014 that said there is significant leakage and structural deterioration at the dam.
 
Officials say the dam, which is in Casco but owned by both towns, is leaking as much as 1,000 gallons of water per minute in at least three places. Attempts to keep the water from undermining the structure have been difficult. The towns face significant fines from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection if the dam fails.
 
Selectmen in each town, along with Peter Barber, president of the Pleasant Lake Association, and others have been meeting to develop a plan of attack.
 
On Wednesday, April 27, prospective bidders from half a dozen companies met with town officials and the project engineer at the dam, which is located next to the Hancock Lumber offices on Route 121 in Casco. The pre-bid meeting allows prospective bidders to ask questions about the project before they submit their bids.

Among the problems the winning contractor will face is to install a sluice to ensure the thousands of fish in the state hatchery downstream of the dam have water to stay alive during construction, and the potential noise from the construction to the guests of the adjacent Pleasant Lake House.

The dam regulates the water level of the 3.8-mile-long Pleasant Lake. There are numerous homes and cottages around the lake, as well as the Seeds of Peace International Camp on the western shore and Camp Arcadia for Girls on the eastern shore, both in Otisfield.

The dam has been jointly owned, operated and maintained by Casco and Otisfield since 1994. It previously was owned by Hancock Lumber.

According to the Maine Dams Inventory, the 110-foot-long, 12-foot-high dam was built in 1850, repaired in 1980 and has low-hazard classification, meaning there is nothing significant downstream that would be affected by a dam breach.


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