LIVERMORE FALLS — Town officials have been put on notice about untreated sewage getting into Clay Brook.

The state Department of Environmental Protection sent a Notice of Violation dated Aug. 26 to the town Sewer Department because of untreated sewage going into Clay Brook in July at the Shuy Corner pump station on Park Street/Route 133.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued a Notice of Violation following a break in a sewer main discovered in July that had pumped raw sewage into Clay Brook off Route 133 in Livermore Falls. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

The DEP acknowledged that Superintendent Mark Holt assumed responsibility over the town’s wastewater treatment plant and collection system in June.

While checking the four pump stations in town July 6, Holt discovered the station in the Shuy Corner area was pumping raw sewage into the brook that runs under the road near The Lunch Pad restaurant and eventually drains into the Androscoggin River.

The department also acknowledged that Holt took immediate action, including mitigation, notifying the DEP, “remediation and repair responses that were all timely and appropriate,” James Crowley, DEP compliance supervisor and state pretreatment coordinator, wrote in a letter attached to the notice.

“What is of significant concern to the department is that the circumstances specified in the (Notice of Violation) which enabled a chronic, ongoing untreated sanitary wastewater discharge to the brook were (known) to the individuals responsible for the monitoring and maintenance of the pump station since at least as long as May 1st 2014,” Crowley wrote.

“That clear evidence of the problem was not recognized or even possibly ignored for more than seven years is incomprehensible,” Crowley wrote.

The DEP understands that the town and Sewer Department are operating under a relatively new management regime, and that Holt and the town are involved in a “significant, much needed capital improvement effort” at the Livermore Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant. The $14 million upgrade project is expected to be completed by November 2023

“It is our sincere hope that going forward, the individuals responsible for the operation and maintenance of your facilities are appropriately trained and motivated to perform in a conscientious and professional manner, and that the town adopts, supports and appropriately resources this goal,” Crowley wrote.

According to the notice of the alleged violations, Holt determined the station’s pumps and level controls were operating appropriately. His original concern was that the pumps had run for so little time despite the expected flow from the connections feeding the station. There are about 18 residences and several businesses connected to the sewer line.

“On close inspection of the pump run log, it was apparent that during 2021, up to July 9, both of the station pumps would go for days without running at all, despite an expected 2,000 to 2,500-gallon a day influent flow. Looking further into the records, pump run logs going back to May of 2014 showed the same pattern; there were no records available that predated May 2014,” according to the notice.

Additionally, all of the log entries were initialed by the operator(s) in attendance, apparently without anyone addressing the clear incongruity of the recorded pump run times.

“The superintendent and department personnel, after inspecting the site and analyzing the information available, concluded that along with the discharging while actively pumping, the force main breach was most likely siphoning wastewater from the higher head pump station wet well into Clay Brook while the pumps were off. Given that steady release, there were times when the pumps didn’t run for as much as a week or more, until either the siphon was broken or the influent flow was sufficient to exceed the leakage rate long enough to allow the wet well to fill and trigger a pump to start,” according to the notice.

The order listed several violations of environmental laws, rules or department orders. The DEP issued the town a permit in 2016 for the monthly average discharge of up to 2 million gallons per day of secondary treated wastewater to the Androscoggin River.

Holt told selectmen Tuesday that he is working on the requested corrective actions outlined in the notice and will comply with the order. By Oct. 1, they need to develop basic pump station and collection system standard operating procedures for monitoring and routine maintenance, with associated record keeping. By Oct. 8, the wastewater treatment facility staff needs to be trained on the procedures.

By Dec. 31, 2022, a detailed pump station and collection system component needs to be developed for the facility and operation and maintenance plan.

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