Van Buren Sludge Drying Bed

The grant funds provided by CDBG have been an invaluable catalyst in our journey towards completing the sludge drying bed. With their support, we have been able to transform a critical waste management challenge into a sustainable solution, benefiting our community and environment. These funds not only pave the way for efficient and responsible sludge management, but also empower us to enhance public health, promote economic growth, and foster a cleaner, greener future."
Luke Dyer
Town Manager

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.



  • Town of Van Buren
  • Maine Department of Environmental Protection
  • Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Wright-Pierce Engineering
  • State ARPA funding



  • CDBG – $990,000
  • Clean Water State Revolving Funds – $1,050,932.34
  • MDEP Grant – $$500,000
  • ARPA funds – $463,509
  • Total – $3,004,441.34


Deborah Johnson, Director
Maine Office of Community Development
59 SHS, Augusta ME
[email protected]

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