Van Buren, Maine 2nd congressional District
In August of 2019 the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) notified all communities without sludge dewatering facilities to apply for planning grants to address poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in sludge. The practice of spreading sludge on farm fields would no longer be allowed. The town received a MDEP planning grant the final report of which recommended a dewatering/drying bed system. Van Buren applied to multiple funders to Achieve the necessary funds to execute the new system.
The project is nearing substantial completion. A transfer pump #2 replacement, installation of an actuator valve on transfer pump #1, and some electrical work are remaining.
Benefits & Innovation
This project provides an enclosed structure to facilitate the drying of contaminated sludge which when dried can then be removed and transported to an approved landfill. There will no longer be PFAS contaminated sludge unsuspectingly spread on farm fields which ultimately can affect grass-fed livestock and humans who consume vegetables grown in soils where sludge was spread.
The Town of Van Buren had been disposing of sludge from it’s municipal wastewater treatment facility by spreading it on farm fields. This was no longer permitted due to the concentration of PFAS chemicals that were being discovered in cow’s milk, cow manure, farmers, and municipal sludge. The town had no alternative methods for disposal unless the sludge could be dewatered and ultimately disposed of in an approved landfill. A sludge drying bed was the answer for this small rural community that is 57.18% low to moderate income.
Deborah Johnson, Director
Maine Office of Community Development
59 SHS, Augusta ME