Wright-Pierce was the recipient of an Engineering Excellence Award from American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Maine Chapter, for our role in helping the Town of East Millinocket convert a large paper mill lagoon treatment plant into a system to treat municipal wastewater.

Paper mills going bankrupt happens all too often in Maine and these shutdowns impact entire communities in many cases. However, it is not often that paper mills are also the lifeblood of the community’s wastewater system. While the Town of East Millinocket operated a 0.25 million gallon per day (MGD) primary treatment plant, it relied upon the Great Northern Paper (GNP) Mill’s 30 MGD wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) for secondary treatment. Therefore, when the paper mill closed, the Town was left with a no-decision option of buying the mill’s lagoon WWTF in order to have secondary treatment which was necessary in order to remain in compliance with federal and state water quality standards. Unfortunately, the lagoon WWTF was greatly oversized for the municipal wastewater flows and expensive to operate and maintain for the Town.

The Town engaged Wright-Pierce to assist with the transfer of ownership and operation assistance of the WWTF. Concurrently, options were evaluated to provide a correctly sized secondary treatment facility to meet the Town’s future needs, and to upgrade the Town’s aging primary-only treatment plant. Five different on-site wastewater treatment options, and an option to pump to the Millinocket WWTF, were evaluated. The option with the lowest life-cycle cost and best overall value consisted of reconfiguring the existing GNP lagoon into a traditional 3-cell lagoon for secondary treatment. The resulting project, funded by $8.7 million in grants and $4 million in low-interest Rural Development and Clean Water SRF loans, included construction of a 3-cell lagoon; headworks facilities; aeration and effluent disinfection systems; and upgrading the Town’s existing control/administration building.

Wright-Pierce’s David Cockburn, Project Manager for this project, commented “In Maine there is a common thread among all communities – protection of the state’s waterways and natural resources. At the completion of this project, the Town of East Millinocket was able to keep the environment top of mind and protect the waters of the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Recently, the Town has gone one step further and has purchased the remnants of the mill and associated land and plans to repurpose it for the benefit of the community as a whole.”

Watch the video below to see the project evolution and contact us today to learn more.