KENNEBUNK – Municipal elections are approaching, and the town of Kennebunk will vote on a district-specific referendum, in addition to the state referendum questions.

The district-specific referendum reads as follows: “Do you favor changing the debt limit of the Kennebunk Sewer District from Thirty Million Dollars to Fifty-Five Million Dollars?”

If the referendum passes, the Kennebunk Sewer District will spend an estimated $25 million to upgrade its facility, including installing a new biological treatment process to replace outdated and failing rotating biological contacts. Without these upgrades, the sewer district will not be able to meet new permit conditions from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Rotating biological contacts are large, fixed film rolls that rotate in wastewater. A biological film grows on the media of these rolls and feeds on the pollutants in the wastewater, making them an indispensable part of the treatment process. Only a handful of wastewater treatment facilities in the state use this technology for the biological component of their process. For example, the neighboring town of Kennebunkport uses a different technology to biologically remove pollutants from the water. Arundel does not have a public sewer.

Chris Gallant, assistant manager of the Kennebunk Sewer District, said “If the referendum does not pass, we will not be able to comply with our upcoming license requirements. We also run the risk of the rotating biological contacts failing as they are at their expected life expectancy. Non-compliance of the permit can result in penalties from the Maine DEP. This public referendum is the smoothest way to raise our limit to allow us to complete the necessary work to stay in compliance.”

The sewer district plans to use low interest bonds to pay for installing rotating biological contacts. At present, they have approximately $19.3 million in bonded debt. However, the sewer district reports that it does not anticipate any more bonded projects after the projects that are currently slated for 2024 have been completed.


“There is never a dull day in wastewater,” said Gallant. “I get to work with some pretty amazing people every day here in Kennebunk that take so much pride in what we do. I also have an amazing group of professionals across the state to share ideas and network with. The state of Maine has so many dedicated men and women who enjoy doing the dirty work to keep our waterways clean and safe for all to enjoy.”

If the referendum does not pass, Gallant anticipates that the town of Kennebunk will attempt to make a charter revision through the state legislature.



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