Maine Water saved 100 million gallons of water in 2016

Utility continues to replace old infrastructure, find and fix leaks

(Saco, Maine) Maine Water announced today that it pumped and treated 100 million fewer gallons of water in 2016 than it did the previous year, while still delivering the same amount of water to its customers.

Maine Water technicians hunt for water main leaks

On the hunt for leaks

Maine Water’s ongoing and aggressive review of the company’s 12 water systems in Maine resulted in this water savings. The company is making a significant financial investment to replace aging infrastructure, and to hunt down and repair any leaks in those water systems. Judy Wallingford, president of Maine Water, said most water distribution systems across Maine and New England were first installed in the late 1800s. She said it is inevitable that all water utilities in Maine will face broken pipes, possibly at an increasing rate as time goes by, due to the severely advanced age of these distribution systems.

“Anybody who has driven over a big frost heave in March knows the incredible beating our dramatic weather inflicts on the ground itself, and anything buried in it,” Wallingford said. “With our very experienced employees and some impressive technology, we’ve been scouring five hundred and fifty miles of pipes in Maine. Saving that much water in one year is an outstanding result, and we plan to continue the hunt each year.”

According to Maine Water, a large water main break is usually easily identified and repaired, but smaller leaks are more numerous, and not as easily detected. That allows water to seep into the ground unnoticed, and that’s why the company is proactively searching for the smaller leaks. Maine Water also asks that if anyone notices water running down a street or pooling in their yard, that might signal a water main break, which should be reported to their local water utility. Maine Water customers should call 1-800-287-1643.

Wallingford said Maine Water is boosting its statewide capital budget for 2017 to $8.7 million, an increase of more than $1 million from 2016.

“Our natural water resources are precious, and our responsibility is to protect them, to use them prudently, and to ensure their sustainability. By fixing breaks and leaks, we not only use less water, we also use less power and fewer chemicals. That’s an added benefit for the environment and for our customers’ rates,” Wallingford said.

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Hazen selected to design new treatment facility

Maine Water investing millions

Maine Water continues to invest millions to upgrade the public drinking water delivery system in southern Maine.

(Saco, Maine) After a competitive review process, Maine Water has selected Hazen (www.hazenandsawyer.com) for the engineering design services necessary to build a new water treatment facility near the Saco River in Biddeford.

Hazen is an international engineering firm with over 65 years’ experience in the water industry, specializing in water and wastewater facility design, process optimization and treatment solutions. Recent New England projects include design of the LEED-certified water treatment plant in Portsmouth, NH, and an upgrade to the Stamford (CT) Water Treatment Plant. Rick Knowlton, Maine Water’s vice president of operations, said a variety of considerations factored into Hazen’s selection.

“First, an on-time and on-budget project is paramount,” Knowlton said. “But we were also looking for someone who understands how closely we need to collaborate with our service communities during construction, a process that could take more than three years.”

Knowlton said the new facility, a $50 million investment in the region’s infrastructure, will serve Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough, and will eventually provide drinking water to 50,000 area residents. A unique design consideration of the new facility in Biddeford is that water systems to the west and southwest may soon explore connection options to the Saco River to pursue regional drought protection objectives and water supply and redundancy objectives that southern Maine water utilities, as a group, have studied for over a decade.

“Hazen did a good job of understanding that complex dynamic. We also liked their grasp of increasingly stringent water quality standards, and our insistence on environmental sustainability, including the use of renewable energy at the new facility,” Knowlton said.

Maine Water’s existing treatment facility sits squarely in the flood plain of the Saco River, and is 133 years old. The new facility will be well out of the flood plain, on the western side of South Street in Biddeford.

Knowlton estimates that project design and approvals will take about 18 months, and that actual construction will conclude some time in 2020. Maine Water serves 32,000 customers, or a population of 100,000, in over 20 communities throughout the state of Maine.

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Wayne Picard retired from Maine Water Company

Served Biddeford & Saco Division for 35 years!

We're really going to miss this guy!

We really miss this guy!

(Saco, Maine) Earlier this summer, Wayne Picard retired from Maine Water Company after 35 years of serving the customers in the Biddeford and Saco area.

Picard joined what was at the time the Biddeford and Saco Water Company in April, 1981, working on the distribution crew. Over the years, Wayne has been promoted to various positions, and most recently has been an Engineering Project Coordinator, managing upgrades and capital projects to the Biddeford and Saco water system. Just since 2013, Picard has managed the $900,000 replacement of a critical booster station in Biddeford and the upgrade to the Industrial Park site in Saco to accommodate the relocation of the Maine Water home office employees to that building. He also managed two significant water replacement projects on West Street and Elm Street in Biddeford.

“In addition, Wayne’s most recent accomplishment was the oversight and management of the $2.5 million replacement of a finished water storage tank in Biddeford,” stated Judy Wallingford, President. “His no-nonsense, Maine Yankee, approach to these significant upgrades have been invaluable to the projects’ successful completion, and his historical knowledge of the entire water system will be sorely missed.”

Wayne and his wife, Sue, plan to stay in Biddeford and enjoy retirement, starting with an immediate fishing trip Downeast, followed by tackling the growing “Honey Do” list.

A celebration was held in Wayne’s honor at the company’s Saco office on May 19th. Wallingford stated “It has been an honor to work with Wayne, and I thank him for his many years of service, dedication and loyalty. We will miss him, but we wish Wayne the very best in retirement.”

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Downtown vitality impresses water company Board

One of the cleanest rivers in U.S. helps drive economic rebound

(Saco, Maine) The Board of Directors of the Maine Water Company, which has been investing heavily to upgrade its local public water supply and distribution systems, got a first-hand look today at some of the major revitalization projects currently taking place in downtown Biddeford and Saco.

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The Saco Falls project, at the top pf York Hill, is now being refurbished. It will bring several new restaurants, and hundreds of new residents, to downtown Saco.

“I was really impressed by how much is happening here, and how quickly,” said Bradford Hunter, a Maine Water board member. “With the better part of two million square feet of space already developed or under development now, you really have to see it to grasp the full scope of what’s going on.”

Hunter lives in Cumberland Foreside and is the recently retired Chief Financial Officer of Dead River Company and former CEO of Fleet Bank of Maine.

Craig Pendleton, executive director of the Biddeford, Saco and OOB Chamber of Commerce, organized the tour. Escorted by Saco Mayor Ron Michaud, Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant and several other community leaders, water company officials first toured the Saco Mills project in Saco. They then crossed the new pedestrian bridge between the two cities, before visiting the Pepperell Mill Campus, and Pepperell Center, a building that houses Think Tank, Portland Pie, Banded Horn Brewery, Impact Fitness Center, Angelrox, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and many other businesses. The Saco Falls project is now under construction, and when finished will bring hundreds of new residents to Saco Island. The Pepperell Mill Campus has been in a sweeping transformation for more than a decade, and continues to attract dozens of entrepreneurs and many new residents to downtown Biddeford.

Saco’s Mayor Michaud said local leaders were glad for the chance to discuss continued investment in basic infrastructure, and they were proud to show off the economic revitalization in downtown Biddeford and Saco. Nevertheless, he said that other conversations with members of the Maine Water Board of Directors were equally important, and made an impression on him.

“They have a keen understanding of the Saco as a vital resource,” Michaud said, “and in particular, they have a real respect for the important work of the Saco River Corridor Commission. Maine Water plans to further invest in a treatment facility along the Saco River to meet the long-term water supply needs of the area in an environmentally sustainable way. As everybody knows, this river is so important to our lives, and it’s one of the cleanest in the Northeast. It’s great to know we have a partner who’s committed to keeping it that way.”

Judy Wallingford, president of Maine Water Company, stated, “Maine Water is proud to have invested about $11 million in drinking water infrastructure to serve the region between 2013 and 2015, with an additional $2.5 million in spending projected in 2016. Having access to a robust water system is an important consideration for business leaders as they consider growing their businesses and creating jobs in the Biddeford Saco region.”

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Ken was one of the best!

(Skowhegan, Maine) Ken Turpel, Treatment Plant Operator for Maine Water Company, has retired from the company after 13 years.

IMG_1683[7]Ken began his career in the water profession in 1983, when he began working at the Pittsfield Water Department. By 1985, he was Superintendent of the Town of Pittsfield Water and Sewer Department. In 2003, he became a Plant Operator at Maine Water, helping to manage the water treatment process for three water systems serving the towns of Skowhegan, Oakland and Hartland. Over his 33-year career in water, he obtained the highest level of water distribution license, as well as obtaining his water treatment and his wastewater licenses, while being dedicated to outstanding water service to the customers.

“Ken is a perfectionist in managing our water treatment processes,” stated Judy Wallingford, President, “which is exactly what we want when it comes to producing safe and reliable public water service for our customers! We will all miss his expertise and strong work ethic, but wish him the very best in retirement.”

Ken plans to stay in the area, spending time with his wife, Bonnie, and his family, volunteering and finding more time for fishing and kayaking and his work with the church. A celebration luncheon was held in Ken’s honor at the company’s Skowhegan facilities on July 21st.

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More great reasons to use e-Billing!

Convenience, iPad drawings & food pantry donations are great incentives

(Saco, Maine) Maine Water announced today that for every customer who switches to e-billing from now to October 1, the company will donate a dollar to various food pantries across the state.

Tersa Androkitis of Old Orchard Beach recently took home a new iPad! Customer Service Manager Pam Blackman made the presentation earlier this month.

Tersa Androkitis of Old Orchard Beach recently took home a new iPad! Customer Service Manager Pam Blackman made the presentation earlier this month.

Wallingford said the company would like to see e-billing enrollment double by the end of 2016, reaching 20% of the customer base, or approximately 6,500 customers.

“E-billing is convenient, it saves paper and waste, and it costs significantly less than producing and mailing a bill to our customers,” stated Judy Wallingford, Maine Water President. “Of course, we know some customers will prefer to continue to receive their bill in regular mail, and we will continue to offer that option.”

About 10% of Maine Water customers now receive their bill via an email. In addition to the food pantry donations, the company is using other incentives to promote conservation.

It announced in the fall of 2015 that any existing or new customers signed up for e-billing by the end of January would be eligible to win a new iPad in a random drawing. The drawing was held in mid-February, and from the approximately 3,000 e-billing customers, Teresa and John Androkitis of Old Orchard Beach were randomly selected. The family was recently presented with the iPad in the company’s Saco office.

Another random drawing for a new iPad will take place in the fall.

“As we highlight this convenience to customers, we thought we could also have a little fun and contribute to a good cause,” Wallingford said.

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Kirby Littlefield wins prestigious Sid Anthony Award of Merit

(Saco, Maine) Maine Water is pleased to announce that long-time employee Kirby Littlefield received the Sid Anthony Award of Merit from the Maine Water Utilities Association at its annual conference last week in Portland, Maine.

Kirby Littlefield first started as a plant operator in May, 1966 in the water treatment plant in Biddeford, Maine, and is completing his 50th year in that role. Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to delivering clean drinking water to the customers in Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, and Pine Point in Scarborough.

Littlefield2“That is no small challenge with a treatment plant that dates back to 1884, along with the ever changing conditions of the Saco River,” said Judy Wallingford, President of Maine Water. “Kirby has been known to be at the plant by 4 am, or before, and has spent many nights at the plant when he was concerned about equipment failures. He knows the treatment plant like the back of his hand, and willingly helps and guides his colleagues in the finer points of the treatment plant operation. And he always has a smile on his face!”

Wallingford said “WWKD” (What Would Kirby Do?) procedures are well known by his fellow plant operators as Kirby documents the intricacies of running the treatment plant.

“I am so pleased that Kirby was presented with this award, and it is an honor to work with him at Maine Water. His character and values truly represent the very best of the water utility profession,” Wallingford said.

The Sid Anthony Award, honoring its namesake, is given each year to a Maine water utility employee who exemplifies public water service to its customers, assistance to other water utility personnel, and outstanding contributions to the water works profession. Mr. Anthony was a long time superintendent of the Augusta water system, and also served as President of the Maine Water Utilities Association and New England Water Works Association. He was known for his dedication to the water works profession.

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