On August 30, 2011 USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel joined Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Curt Spalding and Maine DEP Acting Commissioner Pattie Aho in highlighting one of the most affordable and advanced wastewater facilities in the country. This was an excellent opportunity to highlight the unique project as well as the important partnership between USDA Rural Development and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Greater Limestone Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility is impressive for many reasons. The $21 million total project brought together federal, state and local partners to regionalize two aging rural wastewater treatment facilities in northern Maine (Loring and Limestone) into one state-of-the-art facility.
The project eliminates outfall discharges to the Little Madawaska Stream and Limestone Stream. Instead the combined facilities will convey effluent over 3 miles to the Aroostook River, which is able to handle the capacity. The updated wastewater infrastructure is necessary to support businesses and job creation at the Loring Commerce Center, a 3,800-acre commercial, industrial and aviation park in Limestone. The ongoing 16-month construction project has already created nearly 300 jobs and the Loring Development Authority, which manages the commerce center, expects hundreds of permanent jobs to be created now that wet industry – such as potato processing plants – can utilize the business park, which currently is home to 20 businesses and 1,300 employees.
The impressive project includes upgrades to install energy-efficient pumps, as well as motors, controls, building improvements, and construction of a new generator building with a new solar photovoltaic electrical system. The energy-efficiency upgrades to the plant are estimated to result in savings of approximately $37,000 per year for the facility.
USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “I am pleased that USDA Rural Development has been the major contributor in this project, having provided $11.35 million of the nearly $21 million project cost to assist in the implementation of the wastewater infrastructure necessary to support businesses and job creation in Limestone area. This infrastructure helps sustain the conversion of a major military base to civilian uses.”
EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding said, “EPA is very proud of the work done here to upgrade Limestone’s wastewater treatment facility. This is a great example of how a well-coordinated partnership of federal and state efforts is helping local communities all across Maine and New England to position themselves for robust economic growth with stable and sustainable infrastructure.”
“The Greater Limestone Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility is proof positive that the right thing to do for our health and our environment is also the right thing to do for our economy,” said Maine Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Pattie Aho. “This project protects public health, improves the water quality of sensitive area streams and puts in place the infrastructure integral to attracting the industries and investment of Aroostook County’s thriving tomorrow.”
USDA Rural Development and the Environmental Protection Agency announced a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this month (August highlighting the agencies’ commitment to jointly improve rural drinking water and wastewater systems across the country. This project is a prime example of what is achieved through our partnership and working with the Maine DEP.
Together the agencies will assist rural systems nationwide in implementing strategies and tools to allow them to achieve short- and long-term sustainability to ensure the protection of public health, water quality, and sustainable communities.