A third filter was added to the Nequasset Lake water treatment plant in Woolwich as part of a $2.3 million project. The additional filter will increase the plant’s efficiency amid rising demand for clean drinking water. Photo courtesy of McKenzie Parker 

BATH — The Bath Water District is scheduled to finish adding a water filter to the Nequasset Lake water treatment plant on Monday, about two months behind schedule but slightly under budget.

Water District Superintendent Trevor Hunt said the addition of a third filter was the next major project for the 25-year-old treatment plant, because the existing filters were aging and the area was seeing an increased demand for  water.

“As it stood before, the water district only had two filters and both of those filters had to be operating at the same time to meet the local demand,” said McKenzie Parker, an environmental engineer with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s drinking water program. “With a third filter, you can operate two filters at a time constantly, allowing the third to be cleaned.”

The plant draws water from Nequasset Lake in Woolwich and filters and cleans about two million gallons of lake water each day, which is then distributed to Bath, West Bath, Woolwich, East Brunswick and Edgecomb.

The Maine CDC’s drinking water program funded the $2.3 million project through a bond, meaning water rates will not increase for customers, Hunt said.

The project is running about $15,000 under budget, said Parker.

“This sets up the district customers for the next 20 years of having the upgrades needed for safe, quality drinking water,” said Parker.

Between 2008 and 2020, the plant gained about 400 service connections, said Parker. She said she didn’t know how water usage has changed because service connections vary in usage. For example, a single house and a school each count as one service connection despite using significantly different amounts of water.

Dustin Lacombe, project engineer at Wright-Pierce, a Portland-based engineering firm contracted to do the work, said construction “went very smoothly other than being a bit behind schedule.”

“The project was originally supposed to be complete at the end of November, so we’re two or three months behind schedule,” he said.

Lacombe said the cause of the delay was due in part to a worker shortage as the construction industry boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parker said the project experienced a few construction hiccups as well.

“For example, they had to cut through ledge,” she said. “Because this addition is attached to the original building, they had to carefully remove the ledge with a hoe ram instead of blasting it. It was scheduled to take 11 days, but it took 51 days.”

A second phase of the project to repair corrosion in the filter tanks is slated to begin in summer 2021.


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