Town councilors in Windham will meet Tuesday night to discuss an estimated $67.8 million proposal to develop a sewer system for the commercial area of North Windham and surrounding residential areas.

The proposal calls for a collection system for the town’s waste, which would be transported through a 9- to 10-mile pipe from North Windham to the Portland Water District’s treatment plant in Westbrook.

The council workshop will be held at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

“This is something we need to do,” said Town Manager Tony Plante. “For a lot of people, the need is fairly high.”

Town officials shelved the idea of building a sewage system in North Windham in 2003 because the $30 million price was considered too high. Since then, contamination in groundwater has risen significantly.

Plante said some areas of North Windham have elevated levels of nitrates, which are indicative of wastewater discharge into the ground.

“Based on the data we have collected, it indicates that now is the time we need to do something,” Plante said.

Town officials say a new sewer system would boost economic growth by providing the infrastructure needed for restaurants, hotels and manufacturing industries, and also would help existing businesses expand.

Currently, the town’s only public sewage system is in a small section of Little Falls in South Windham. The new system would benefit the town’s northern business district and an industrial park off Route 302.

“If we are going to attract new businesses and maintain existing businesses, we need to improve our infrastructure,” said Thomas Bartell, the town’s economic development director. “The sewer system is a big part of that.”

Under the proposal, wastewater would be collected at a pump station near the Routes 202 and 302 rotary. The water district’s transport system would convey wastewater to its East Bridge Street Pump Station in Westbrook, then on to its treatment plant.

Officials in Westbrook and Windham met in May to discuss possible routes to the treatment facility. Officials agreed on a section along Route 302 from Willow Drive to Prides Corner.

In March, the town hired Woodard & Curran of Portland, which studied potential development of a system in North Windham in 2001 and 2003.

The Town Council unanimously endorsed a preliminary outline of the current proposal on May 11.

Plante said the town will seek state and federal funding to help pay for the project. “Can we afford it? The question is, can we afford not to?” Plante said.

A new sewer system would be a big help for George Bartlett, owner of Busy Bee Laundry & Dry Cleaning on Roosevelt Trail in North Windham. His business produces roughly 4,000 gallons of wastewater a day, which goes into his septic system. Since 1985, he has rebuilt the system twice. On Wednesday, he learned he will need to fix it again.

“Every time the system fails, it’s a major expense,” he said. “I can’t keep doing this and stay in business.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com