AUBURN — The City Council is poised to offer its support for another mayor’s committee Monday — this time to study the feasibility of building a water filtration plant at Lake Auburn.

Mayor Jason Levesque first said he would form the committee in January, a few weeks after taste and odor issues with the local drinking water subsided following a late summer algae bloom.

Due to the historically clean water supply, Lewiston and Auburn receive a waiver from the state that allows the district to deliver water without filtering it. However, Levesque and others believe it’s only a matter of time before the district loses its waiver if the algae issues continue.

Water officials and members of the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission disagree.

Sid Hazelton, superintendent of the Auburn Water District, has argued building a filtration plant would cost millions and potentially add hundreds of dollars a year to the local water rates.

The agenda memo for Monday’s meeting describes the ad hoc committee on water quality as designed “to address the feasibility and advantages to building a water filtration plant for Lake Auburn and the ability of current programs and efforts to maintain the existing filtration waiver.”

Levesque’s original proposal was to form a joint committee with Lewiston to study filtration, with four members appointed from each city.

Levesque said Friday that each city will form its own ad hoc committee, and coordinate meetings together. He said he plans to appoint five members to Auburn’s committee, including Auburn Water District trustee Dan Bilodeau, Jason Pawlina, Planning Board Chairman Evan Cyr, City Councilor Andy Titus and Fred Koch.

Lewiston administration said Friday that they did not yet have plans to vote on creating its own ad hoc committee, although the mayor has the authority to create and appoint a temporary committee without the council’s blessing.

Mayor Shane Bouchard said Friday that he plans to appoint City Councilor Alicia Rea, Deputy Public Works Director Kevin Gagne, Appeals Board member Jack Clifford and former Finance Committee Chairman Robert Reed.

The Auburn council said in a memo describing the water quality committee that it will hold regular meetings for a period not to exceed six months. The memo has a long list of goals, including creating a concept plan for a filtration plant, estimating the length of time the filtration waiver can be maintained, and doing “an economic analysis to evaluate the cost/benefit of a water filtration plant, including the level of development that might be supported and the cost of additional municipal services to support such development and the extent to which new tax revenues would offset these costs.”

Bilodeau and the mayor told the Sun Journal recently that part of the committee’s work will be to re-examine the past practices of the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission, and whether filtration could allow for more recreation on the lake.

Water officials have argued that more recreation — or lakeside development — could further jeopardize filtration efforts, and drive up the cost of treatment.

Lewiston City Administrator Ed Barrett said Friday that he had not yet discussed the particulars of the committee with Bouchard, but that it could come in front of the council soon.

He said the City Council has at times voted on ad hoc committees based on their intent. Recently, the council did not vote on Bouchard’s fire station building committee, but did vote to support his rental registration committee.

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