State DEP says Milbridge violated monitoring rules involving discharges into river

The town manager says there will be no fine and blames a former contractor for the problem.
A photo of the State of Maine flag.
Photo via Fry1989/Wikimedia.

The town of Milbridge violated rules regarding monitoring of treated wastewater discharged into the Narraguagus River earlier this year, according to state environmental regulators.

In a “Notice of Violation’’ issued to the town on July 30, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Milbridge failed to complete required effluent monitoring, failed to report the missing monitoring and failed to report “exceedances’’ into the river.

The notice followed letters of warning from the DEP, in January and May, for similar violations.

Lewis Pinkham, the town manager, said Milbridge will not face a fine. He said the town hired a new contractor to run the sewage treatment plant over the summer, replacing the one who had not kept the monitoring up to date.

“His contract expired and we didn’t rehire him,’’ Pinkham said.

The town has a secondary wastewater treatment plant that empties into the Narraguagus River.

Secondary wastewater treatment uses bacteria to break down pollutants, including organic matter, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The water is usually treated  to remove the remaining bacteria, the EPA says.

The DEP found the town failed to conduct regular tests on the effluent at least twice dating back to October 2022.

The DEP said that in April and May the town exceeded the allowed limits for biochemical oxygen demand, which helps determine the amount of oxygen in the river. It also exceeded the allowed measurement for suspended solids.

Pinkham said the problem stemmed from the collection of the data for various state agencies. He also questioned the DEP requirement that the town use chemicals to treat the water before it is discharged into the river.

He said the water sent into the river is now meeting environmental standards. “It’s pretty clean, other than the chemicals,’’ he said.

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David Dahl

Veteran journalist David Dahl serves as the editor of The Maine Monitor, overseeing its daily operations. David was most recently a deputy managing editor at the Boston Globe. Before joining the Globe, David worked for 20 years at the St. Petersburg Times. He was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University and a fellow at the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia University. He has also been an adjunct professor of journalism at Emerson College, Boston College and Boston University. David and his wife, Kathy, enjoy tennis and kayaking at their home in Friendship. They have two adult children.
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