RUMFORD — The Rumford-Mexico Sewerage District, the Mexico Water District and the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments will receive a total of $22.1 million for projects in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

Rats nested and chewed wires this past summer in a 48-year-old piece of Rumford-Mexico Sewerage District equipment. District Superintendent Roland Arsenault said the damage shut down several pieces of equipment. Submitted photo

On National Maine Day, U.S. Sens. Susan M. Collins and Angus S. King Jr., joined Rhiannon C. Hampson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development state director, in making the announcement Tuesday morning via Zoom.

It comes on the heels of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement last week that department is investing $5.2 billion to build and improve critical rural infrastructure in 46 states and Puerto Rico.

Rumford-Mexico Sewerage District will receive a loan of $10.77 million and a grant of $8.8 million; the Mexico Water District a loan of $2.45 million; and AVCOG a grant of $77,900.

Melanie Loyzim, commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and co-chairwoman of the Maine Climate Council, said the award is a good example of how this type of infrastructure funding can help address climate change impacts.

“This project improves pump station capabilities to attack increasing storm flows, and improve overall efficiencies at the treatment facility,” Loyzim said.


The Rumford-Mexico Sewerage District will use the money to help finance comprehensive upgrades to the main wastewater treatment facility and the Dix Avenue pump station.

District Superintendent Roland Arsenault said, “This project is a very real and important investment for economic development and environmental well-being for the towns of Rumford, Mexico and Dixfield.”

He said when he became superintendent in 2018, “The district was plagued with failures in critical infrastructure and equipment.”

The cost to operate and maintain the district infrastructure, most of it dating back 45 years, has become a costly expenditure to the users of the system, he said.

He said not a day passes without equipment failures and system challenges.

In 2019, the district contracted Wright-Pierce engineering consultants of Topsham to review all district assets to better understand how to address cascading system and plant failures.


“Given the age of the wastewater infrastructure, the assessment identified over $28 million in needed upgrades,” Arsenault said. “Unfortunately, the residents and businesses in the local area are not able to fund such a large and necessary upgrade. We cannot emphasize enough how critical this piece of funding is for the total funding package,” he said.

Arsenault said the district was also awarded $1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act fund from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

“That leaves us with a total of $8 million in additional funding needed to allow this project to move forward. The district is seeking other funding sources at this time, such as Community Development Block Grant, Northern Border Regional Commission, and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund,” he said.

The Mexico Water District loan will pay for improving facilities that serve the high-pressure zone along the Harlow Hill Road and Backkingdom Road, as well as several other streets in Mexico.

District Superintendent Terry Smith said, “There is a new school coming into the area. We knew we needed to increase capacity.”

Regional School Unit 10 proposes to build a school for prekindergarten through grade 8 students at the site of Meroby Elementary and Mountain Valley Middle schools in Mexico. The school would house students from Rumford and Mexico elementary schools and the middle school.


The Water District will replace a welded steel water storage tank with a cast-in-place concrete reservoir, complete improvements to the Harlow Hill booster pump station and replace a 100-year old unlined cast-iron water main.

“We’re excited to get this loan,” Smith said. “It’s a long time in the making and without USDA Rural Development, I really don’t know how in the world we’d have ever funded this. But to fund it and get it all done at the same time is a huge plus.”

AVCOG’s grant will provide a wide range of technical assistance to towns and/or groups of towns operating together in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

“The goal of the tri-county region program is to reduce the amount of toxicity of waste being disposed and improve the sustainability of the local and regional solid waste systems,” Executive Director Amy Landry said.

AVCOG will work with communities to improve efficiencies, reduce costs where possible, protect the environment and public health, increase institutional capacity and compliance, and ensure adequate facilities for now and the future, she said.

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