Gov. Janet Mills’ office has announced that nearly $20 million in state money is going to more than a dozen communities to shore up infrastructure against the effects of climate change, and among the recipients are Winslow and the sewer district serving Anson and Madison.
The Maine Department of Transportation will provide the grants that are meant to make infrastructure more resilient against flooding, rising sea levels and extreme storms that are increasing in frequency.
Winslow will receive $2.7 million and the Anson-Madison Sanitary District was awarded $842,000. The funding was announced by Mills’ office last week.
Winslow Town Manager Erica LaCroix said the town will use the money to increase the capacity of its stormwater system, which will ensure that water can flow more freely away from roads, homes and other places where flooding has occurred, such as the McDonald’s and Cumberland Farms parking lots.
The town is focusing on Cushman Road and Robert Street, which drain near McDonald’s and Cumberland Farms during heavy storms, causing property damage, she said. Fixing the drainage in those areas will mitigate the flooding further downhill.
“It sounds like an awful lot of money to just address pipe and concrete structure, but it literally will take that much to dig up the roads, install the new culvert structures and pay engineers for designing the flow of the water coming down from the neighborhoods,” she said.
LaCroix said she expects to see flooding occur more regularly.
“This money will allow us to finally get in there and bring the stormwater system up to capacity so that we can help protect the neighborhoods and the businesses that are in that area,” she said.
She later added, “We are just really thankful to be able to get this funding and address flooding issues that have gotten progressively worse over time, especially since we know that it’s going to continue into the future.”
Meanwhile, Dale Clark, general manager of the Anson-Madison Sanitary District, said the district will use the grant money to upgrade its stormwater system, eliminating excessive inflow into the wastewater treatment plant.
“This will help Main Street Madison during heavy rain events,” Clark said.
The pipes being used by the sanitary district are 15 inches in diameter and Clark said the plan is to install pipes up to 30 inches in diameter.
“The pipes currently are too small,” he said. “So what happens is, the pipe becomes so full it can’t take any more water and Main Street Madison ends up flooded.”
The adoption of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972 led the town to build a treatment plant, but over time rainwater and sewer water ended up being mixed together. Now the sanitary district just treats sewer, not stormwater.
Clark said the size of the pipes and the old stormwater infrastructure have been a problem for the past 20 years.
“The goal is to keep the Kennebec River clean,” Clark said. “We treat the water from all the homes in Anson-Madison, and remove all the contaminants before it’s discharged back into the river.”