Fort Kent in line for $5.6 million award for major water main replacement project

2 months ago

FORT KENT, Maine – The town of Fort Kent is in line to receive a $5.6 million award to help fund a roughly 1.66-mile water main replacement project throughout town. The project will replace water lines that are presently at high risk of failure along Route 1, according to Town Manager Suzie Paradis.

“They are crucial for our residents, businesses such as NMMC (Northern Maine Medical Center), nursing homes, Fish River, and other businesses along Route 1,” she said.

The water lines are over 50 years old. The work will prevent any breaks or failures from occurring as a result of their age.

The funding is currently subject to approval of Maine’s Capitalization Grant Application by the U.S. EPA and the Maine Municipal Bond Bank. If approved, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) would approve a $3 million loan with $1,050,000, or 35 percent, principal forgiveness for 2024.

According to an April 2 award letter from Maine DWP Chief Engineer McKenzie Parker, the Fort Kent Water and Wastewater Department qualifies as a disadvantaged community.

If the town applies for the remaining $2,594,000 next year, it will automatically be placed on the primary project list and be awarded at least 35 percent principal forgiveness. This would result in approximately $2 million worth of loan forgiveness altogether.

The project includes replacement of about 5,900 feet of deteriorated 10-inch asbestos cement pipe on Route 1 with new 12-inch ductile iron pipe. This extends from the well pump houses on Pump House Road to NMMC. 

The work will also include replacing two parallel six-inch cast iron water mains with approximately 2,900 feet of 12-inch ductile iron pipe. This part of the project extends from NMMC to Cannan Street.

Fort Kent Town council voted unanimously on Tuesday, April 9 to move forward with the project and award. 

Paradis explained during the meeting that if the town applies for other grants, the money will only be applied to the principal forgiveness.

She said the town will be requesting water rate increases from the PUC later this year to help offset the remaining costs for the project. The town of Fort Kent has not had an increase in their water rate in roughly 20 to 30 years, Paradis said.

Councilor Jake Robichaud agreed with the proposal, adding that even people with their own water and wastewater systems have to pay annual costs.

Looking ahead, Paradis said project engineers will take over with the bidding process. At this point, it is too early for officials to provide an overall timeline for the work.