LEWISTON — The city will use more than $20 million in federal relief funds toward big-ticket infrastructure projects, ventilation improvements to public city buildings and hazard pay bonuses for staff.

Approved by the City Council on Tuesday, a large majority of the $20.9 million in funds will go toward a sewer overflow storage tank and a long-sought second water main for the city.

Both projects have been featured in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, slated among millions in bond spending in future budgets. Instead, the city will complete the two $9.75 million projects with federal dollars.

According to next year’s capital plan, the 2.2 million-gallon combined sewer overflow (CSO) storage tank will be installed at the Lewiston Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority, where it would capture flow from the Lewiston interceptor during storm events before it enters the treatment plant.

The plan states it would “be sized to capture a one-year storm without overflowing,” and was needed to control overflows at the treatment plant as part of its 20-year master plan update.

Construction was originally planned for fiscal year 2025.

The other major infrastructure project involves building a second water transmission main into Lewiston from Lake Auburn.

There is only one pipe that carries all the city’s drinking water from Lake Auburn until it reaches the Main Street pump station, and according to the capital plan, “the city has always been at risk of losing its water supply if its only transmission main was ever disrupted for a long period of time.”

The project has been a goal for years and was suggested more than a century ago when the original main was installed.

“In today’s climate, the threat to our drinking water source is ever present, and the need to complete the design suggestion of 1899 is more important now than ever,” the plan states.

According to the capital plan, Phase 1 of the project would be to construct a new bridge crossing from Great Falls Plaza to the Main Street pump station, with phases 2-5 “a phased installation of 15,500 feet of new 24-inch main from Turner Street near Lake Auburn to Great Falls Plaza.”

The project was included in the CIP to be funded between fiscal years 2022-26 through bonding.

Tuesday marked the first meeting back in-person for the council, which has been conducting meetings over Zoom videoconferencing since March 2020.

The remaining funds will go toward $220,000 in hazard pay bonuses for city staff, and $1.18 million in ventilation improvements to city public buildings.

When asked about the hazard pay Tuesday, Finance Director Heather Hunter said the city chose to disburse hazard pay as bonuses rather than on a per-hour basis.

The council vote was unanimous.

The American Rescue Plan Act funds were given directly to municipalities in May, with local governments receiving half the funding this year and another half in 2022.

All funding has to be spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

Earlier this year, Auburn officials hosted a regional summit in hopes of pooling regional relief funds toward larger projects.

According to a council memo, staff “reviewed local projects that fall within published guidelines” and came up with the list for approval.

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