Wilton residents suspect that raw sewage is flowing into Wilson Lake. At the Tuesday, Aug. 17, Wilton Select Board meeting selectpersons set a plan in motion for the town to address the problem and avoid any public health hazards. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

WILTON — The Select Board approved a plan Tuesday, Aug. 17, to stop contaminants that residents suspect are flowing into Wilson Lake, possibly from a faulty septic tank.

Town officials will take four steps: do a dye test in the suspected septic tank to track the path it flows; contact a third party to conduct testing at multiple locations and determine if there is raw sewage and if it has E. coli or coliform in it; plug up a residual creek that is flowing into the lake with hay to prevent contamination; and continue pumping a sewage tank regularly, until it is replaced.

The third party to do testing and dye tracking was suggested by residents Robyn Raymond and Mark Collins, who attended the meeting and own property on the same street as the faulty septic tank.

Raymond said she reached out to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and was told “this was an emergency hazardous situation that needed immediate attention by the town of Wilton,” though the board did not confirm her claim.

Raymond also raised concerns that the town has not acted on this issue in a timely manner.

“I’ve been trying to work with the town, I said I want transparency, I want open lines of communication and I want an action plan with tangible results,” Raymond said. “Please understand my frustration that it took six weeks for this to get properly covered.”

The septic tank was first pumped and treated on July 6, following Raymond’s July 1 complaint. The site has since been tested and overseen by town officials. However, this is the first time the issue has come before the Select Board.

The third-party testing will be conducted, in part because of a dispute between resident, Friends of Wilson Lake board member Barry Hathaway and Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Grossman.

Grossman said there was no E. coli or other toxicities in the samples taken, that he couldn’t test for coliform, only E. coli.

However, Hathaway said in samplings he took and had tested by a chemist at the state Department of Health and Human Services in Augusta, there was a concerning level of E. coli and coliform.

Grossman disputes it, saying the “nasty looking stuff” found is not raw sewage and that Hathaway’s samples were “contaminated.”

Hathaway showed a picture of the suspected sewage during the meeting. In a phone interview, Selectperson Tom Saviello said he suspects the matter is algae.

Wilton resident, Friends of Wilson Lake board member Barry Hathaway shows a picture of matter found near a faulty septic tank that he suspects is flowing into Wilson Lake at the Tuesday, Aug. 17, Wilton Select Board meeting. The board decided the town will act on multiple ideas to avoid a potential public health hazard. Screenshot

Hathaway clashed with Grossman and Saviello during the meeting.

“Why didn’t your people tell you the whole truth?” Hathaway asked. “Sewage is in the lake!” he said in a raised voice. “The test results were primarily raw sewage.”

Select Board chair David Leavitt had to retake control of the meeting and settle down raised voices, interruptions multiple times.

The board concluded that though it’s unclear if the failed septic tank is at fault, the town should act on any potential “public health hazards” and put a stop to it.

Code Enforcement Officer Charlie Lavin said the septic tank will be replaced by October.

In other business, the board authorized and directed the town attorney to “take any and all action including without limitation the filing of suit in state court” against Timothy Amerson for an illegal sign on his property on Route 2. The sign violates the town’s zoning ordinance, because commercial signs must be located within 1,000 feet of a business’ building. The board first raised the issue with Amerson’s sign in April.

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