FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday evening, July 12, approved increasing the septage receiving rate from $85 to $175 per 1,000 gallons of septage.

The increase request is due to LD 1911 and PFAS, Stephen Millett director of the Wastewater/Sewer Department said.

PFAS, per- and polyfluorinated substances or “forever chemicals,” are a group of more than 4,000 man-made chemicals commonly found in nonstick and water-resistant surfaces on cookware, clothing, furniture, food packaging and more.

“It’s a group of four chemicals that seems to be in everything,” he noted. “We’ve gone from being able to compost our sludge to not being able to compost and everything going to the landfill. Because [facilities] can’t make that side money to keep their prices down, can no longer compost sludge, our rate has gone up.”

Millett said the town’s rate had gone up $49.75 over the past two months from the $110 per ton that had been charged to take the town’s biosolids or sludge. Because sludge can no longer be composted, the life of landfills is also being shortened, he noted. The one in use currently was supposed to last until 2026 but the thinking now is that it will be filled before the end of 2024, he added.

“I called around to a lot of the area facilities, everybody has gone up,” Millett said. “We used to be the highest in the area, we didn’t take a lot of septage in.”


Livermore and Wilton charge $150 to $155, Rumford charges $136 for the three towns they service and $204.50 outside that area, Millett noted. Waterville and Anson/Madison both discharge into bigger water bodies and can take in more, he said.

“I would like to keep us above our closest neighbors, it is costing us more money,” Millett stated. “I am pretty sure that rate will go up.”

PFAS levels being looked at in parts per trillions is alarming, he noted. “That is like 12 to 13 zeros before the decimal, very minute, doesn’t leave much room for error,” he added.

Farmington’s sludge has been tested three times, for the most part came out pretty good, Millett said. The effluent should follow suit, he added. He wasn’t sure when the last rate increase was.

“This won’t affect a lot of people, Millett noted.

He verified the rate increase was for local septage haulers only.


Millett said 1,000 gallons was taken in last year from septage haulers and 3,000 gallons the year before. Septage from campers is taken in all summer long but isn’t close to amounts from haulers, he noted.

Selectman Stephan Bunker asked if rates for regular customers might be affected.

“I don’t think it will,” Millett said.

Selectman Scott Landry asked if $175 was enough.

Millett thought it was so long as Farmington’s rate stays above other towns.

“[PFAS testing] is also going to cost us money,” Millett said. “I was told by my DEP compliance officer that we are going to be part of the pilot program that will be testing our effluent. We don’t know how often, what the test is going to cost. We do know the state is supposed to foot the bill for everything – containers, tests – but they don’t tell you how often we have to do the test.”


What happens if the tests don’t meet recommended levels is also not known, Millett said.

Will extra work be put on your crew, Selectman Chair Matthew Smith asked.

“They have got some really funky testing requirements,” Millett said. “Your clothes have to be washed in hot water, you can’t have any kind of conditioner in your hair, can’t have any fabric softener on your clothes, all kinds of different little quirks like that so you don’t contaminate the water. It does end up falling back on the treatment plants.”

It costs $500 to test the biosolids annually now, this is still in the infancy stages and biosolids may need to be tested more often, Millett said. Effluents may need to be tested, could be at least monthly if not every week, he noted.

“That will put an extra burden on your crew,” Smith said.

DEP is going to take full responsibility for all the testing, equipment, shipping costs, Millett said. They are going to test places where Farmington has spread sludge in the past, he noted.

“If they do find contamination in people’s wells, they are going to foot the bill for a charcoal filtration system for the homeowner if they find PFAS,” Millett added.

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