Vassalboro planners approve minor exterior changes at Kennebec Water District

Kennebec Water District treatment plant in Vassalboro. (Internet photo)

by Mary Grow

VASSALBORO, ME — Vassalboro Planning Board members quickly and without dissent approved a minor exterior change at the Kennebec Water District (KWD) treatment plant at 462 Main Street (Route 32), between East and North Vassalboro.

KWD Water Quality Manager Robbie Bickford said the plant was opened in 1993 and is due for upgrades, both to replace aging equipment and to meet current requirements, like updated earthquake standards and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.

The pending project is to replace the chemical feed system, including two 18-foot-diameter tanks inside the building. The building was built around the tanks, Bickford said. To get them out and new tanks in, KWD needs to add a door and to pave a small area that is now grass so heavy equipment can go over it.

There will be no other external changes, Bickford said, except a temporary sign during construction acknowledging financial support from the state Drinking Water Program’s revolving fund.

Planning board members had questions about disposal of chemicals and other safety and environmental issues. Satisfied with Bickford’s replies, they granted the permit.

Bickford said this project, like so many others, is delayed by supply chain hang-ups. He expects work to start in late summer or fall 2022; once started, it should be finished within 180 days, he said.

KWD has no plans to expand the Vassalboro treatment plant, he said. In the 1990s, KWD supplied water to large mills in Waterville; now that its customer base is mainly residential, it operates at about one-third capacity.

The ban on swimming in China Lake’s west basin is to protect water quality. Asked why motor boats are allowed, Bickford had a triple answer.

KWD officials want to accommodate recreational activities as much as possible, he said; and since petroleum products tend to float and KWD’s intake pipe is at the bottom of the lake, it is unlikely that any gas or oil would reach the treatment plant; and if any did, it would be mixed with so much lake water as to be insignificant.

“The solution to pollution is dilution,” he quoted.


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