WINDHAM — A $67.8 million proposal for a wastewater collection system in North Windham hasn’t caught the attention of its residents.

The Town Council held its first public hearing on the proposal Tuesday night, which drew one comment during the public discussion period.

The plan calls for sewage from North Windham to be transported through a 9- to 10-mile pipe to the Portland Water District’s treatment plant in Westbrook.

In March, the town hired Woodard & Curran of Portland, which studied the potential development of a system in North Windham in 2001 and 2003. The town balked at building a system then because the projected cost of $30 million was considered too high. Since then, contamination in groundwater has risen significantly.

Barry Sheff of Woodard & Curran told the council Tuesday that a wastewater collection system would benefit an estimated 1,285 residential parcels and 410 commercial parcels, as well as the school campus in Windham Center. He said the town is discharging about 740,000 gallons of wastewater a day and that doing nothing is not an option.

“You need to remove that source if you want to address your public health concerns,” Sheff told the council. “You need to remove that source if you want to address your resource protection concerns. As groundwater becomes contaminated or is at risk of contamination, you’re putting the lakes and ponds that we have such admiration for at risk.”

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 agreed that the route to the treatment facility would follow a section along Route 302 from Willow Drive to Pride’s Corner.

The council unanimously endorsed a preliminary outline of the current proposal May 11. No one from the public spoke at that public hearing.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Bob Muir of Northwood Drive questioned the accuracy of Woodard & Curran’s study. He called on the council to take a step back and talk to residents and businesses who will be affected by the system.

“These discussions should take place sooner (rather) than later to give the public a realistic look at the scope of the project,” Muir said.

The council will hold a workshop next month to begin developing a business plan to determine how it will fund the project.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]