Bath residents will notice a series of construction projects scattered across the city, all of which center around improving the city’s sewer system.

From late September to mid-June 2022, construction crews will tackle projects on Western Avenue, Academy Street, Cobb Road, Central Avenue, Commercial Street, High Street and Seafarer Lane. The city chose Lewiston-based St. Laurant & Sons Inc. to be the project’s general contractor.

A project area map shows where construction will take place around Western Avenue and Academy Street neighborhoods. Provided by the City of Bath Public Works Department.  

On Western Avenue, a new storm drain will be installed that collects eight existing catch basins that drain into the sewer.

On Academy Street and Cobb Road, an existing sewer line that runs across private property is in poor condition and needs to be replaced, according to Bath Public Works Director Lee Leiner. He didn’t know how old the pipe is, but said it’s in danger of collapsing and lets excess groundwater leak into the city’s wastewater system.

Leiner said the city has contacted anyone whose property will be affected by this work.

Sewer pipes along Central Avenue, Commercial Street, High Street and Seafarer Lane need to be relined to reinforce the strength of the pipe. Leiner said this is considered one of the more “benign” steps in the project because crews can complete this work without digging up the road.


St. Laurant & Sons Inc. Estimator and Project Manager Corey LaRue said crews will move from place-to-place, finishing one project in its entirety before moving onto the next, rather than working in all locations simultaneously.

LaRue said the company doesn’t yet know whether any roads will need to be reduced to one-way traffic or closed completely for the work.

The projects costs about $1.5 million, “paid for through the sewer bond issue voters approved in 2016,” said Leiner.

While the work in various sections of Bath vary, Leiner said the project is “the next piece of a continuing effort to make Bath’s sewer system work better to reduce the amount of groundwater entering the sewer system.”

Bath is one of over 800 municipalities in the country that has combined sewer overflows, considered remnants of the country’s early sewer infrastructure, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Communities built these sewer systems to collect both stormwater runoff and sanitary sewage in the same pipe.

During dry weather, these combined sewer systems transport wastewater directly to the sewage treatment plant without issue. In periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, however, the wastewater volume in a combined sewer system can exceed what the sewer system or treatment plant can hold at a time, said Leiner.


Because of this, combined sewer systems are designed to release excess wastewater directly to nearby bodies of water. In Bath’s case, this wastewater gets released into the Kennebec River.

This project, Leiner said, is working to replace or sure-up failing or cracked equipment that lets in that groundwater, further contributing to the amount of wastewater the city’s treatment plant needs to treat or release.

“We get a lot of water in the sewer system when it rains heavily and when the snow melts,” said Leiner. “You end up pumping out and treating more water than you need to and it can stress the system.”

Combined sewer overflows contain not only wastewater, but also untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and debris, which can be a water pollution concern for communities with these systems.

Leiner said Bath, and other municipalities, report how much of this excess wastewater gets discharged into the Kennebec River to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection each year.

Last year, Bath’s Combined sewer overflows released about 2.8 million gallons, a little over four Olympic swimming pools, of this untreated sewage and excess water into the Kennebec River. Those gallons accounted for about 0.3% of the total 726 million gallons of wastewater the treatment plant saw in 2020. This means 99.7% of the water entering the city’s sewer system made it to the treatment plant and received treatment.

The city has been conducting periodic work to reduce how much wastewater needs to be discharged into the Kennebec River, said Leiner. In 2010, the city had to release over 12.9 million gallons of untreated wastewater into the river, according to Maine Department of Environmental Protection records.

“If we can get to the point where, under any storm scenario, we’re not discharging anything into the river, that’s our goal,” said Leiner. “It’s the right thing to do, both by the law and the environment, so, onward.”

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