Maine Water, an open book

Maine Water crews doing the hard work of replacing drinking water infrastructure.

Maine Water crews have been spreading out over northern York County, doing critical maintenance work to ensure excellent quality drinking water for decades to come.

If you’re somebody who prides yourself on being informed, we have some suggested reading to help you learn about what’s going on in the Biddeford & Saco Division of Maine Water.

When the former Biddeford and Saco Water Company merged with Maine Water Company in 2012, one of the primary motivations for doing so was access to capital. B&SWC knew it had delayed much-needed maintenance and upgrades for far too long, in the interests of keeping water rates extraordinarily low for many decades. They also knew they couldn’t pursue the same strategy much longer, but at the same time, could not gain access to the capital needed to jump-start a responsible program of infrastructure improvement. They were in a Catch-22.

Once the merger took place, one of the first things Maine Water did was to hire Woodard & Curran and Tata & Howard, two fine engineering firms. We asked them to review our entire system in Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough, from top to bottom, and tell us in no uncertain terms what needs to be done. We also began to introduce to these communities the Maine Water culture of transparency, inviting citizens and local officials to learn about their local water utility. Although getting this type of information easily is a new experience in Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough, we believe it’s been an essential and positive change. We will continue to reach out on this blog and in social media channels, to help educate folks about the nuts and bolts of what it takes to deliver some of the cleanest drinking water in the United States to your tap.

Let’s get back to the system review. The two engineering firms produced an eye-opening report in two volumes. If you want to understand what Maine Water is doing in southern Maine, the report is important reading. It explains why, in a system that has pipes as much as 125 years old, we need to invest in basic infrastructure to make sure that economic revitalization continues in the region.

The report, called the “Comprehensive System Facility Plan,” is technical yet readable. Volume I includes demand projections, existing conditions, system evaluation, and immediate and short-term priority improvements which are essential to continued and reliable operation of the treatment and distribution system. Volume II recommends mid-term and long-term priority improvements that address the longer term viability of the existing facility and distribution system. It also evaluates the option of a new treatment facility. Both volumes list deficiencies and provide recommendations for a series of system improvements, which are categorized by immediate, short-term, mid-term, and long-term priority.

Much of the information in Volume I and Volume II is jaw-dropping. It is also indispensable. Download Volume I here, and download Volume II here.

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