Brunswick Sewer District upgrade to go to voters

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BRUNSWICK — Brunswick Sewer District customers will vote in November on funding for a $22 million upgrade of the aging waste-water treatment plant.

The plant was built in the late 1960s and was last upgraded in 1991.

The money for the renovation will come from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Water revolving loan fund, which the BSD will repay over a 20-year period.

To do so, the BSD will have to raise rates by as much as 40 percent over the next four years.

Voters will be asked  to approve raising the BSD’s debt limit to $25 million, $5 million above the current limit. The hike was approved by the Brunswick Town Council and the state Legislature.

In an effort to bring more public awareness to the district’s operations, and its needs, the BSD has turned to multimedia.

A new 13-minute video, produced by BSD staff, illustrates the journey of household waste water as it travels through the water treatment cycle.

The video highlights each step of the process, from clean water going into a home, coming out as waste water, collection and movement to the plant, treatment, and finally the end result: clean outfall flowing back to the Androscoggin River.

The BSD has also designed an interactive poster to accompany the video.

On the poster, each step of the treatment cycle has a QR code, a type of barcode that can be scanned by a smartphone. Scanning the code directs the viewer to the corresponding segment of the video.

The poster can be viewed at a new kiosk on the Androscoggin River bike path. BSD is also planning a similar kiosk near its pumping facility at Mill Creek near the swinging bridge, according to district General Manager Leonard Blanchette.

Blanchette said they also hope to distribute the poster to schools and municipal buildings.

“The days of out of sight, out of mind don’t apply,” he said Monday. “We’re a key component of the town. … We want town ratepayers and the community to know what we’re doing and what we’re all about, and the impact and importance we have.”

Rates went up 14 percent last year, and annual increases are expected over the next few years, Blanchette said.

“It’s (ratepayers’) money and we’re just the stewards,” he said. He said he hopes the posters and video will help teach people “what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”

“We work for you,” he added.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.