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Frenchville to add sewer litigation request to warrant

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — The Frenchville Board of Selectmen held an emergency meeting on March 5 when they authorized a request by town manager Ryan E. Pelletier to add an article to the town warrant concerning the town’s wastewater treatment system.

The communities of St. Agatha and Frenchville share a wastewater treatment system as part of an agreement they entered into in 2011. Wastewater from St. Agatha is transferred via sewer line to the treatment facility in Frenchville, where it is treated. Each community pays a portion of general operational and maintenance costs, and additional fees based on the flow or input into the system from each town.

When entering into the agreement, the towns agreed to share the wastewater treatment system for a period of 50 years.

However, selectmen who signed off on the pact back in 2011 based their decision on flow amounts for St. Agatha that proved to be well below what is actually flowing into the system to be processed, according to Pelletier.

He told Frenchville selectmen at a Jan. 25 board meeting that the combined excess flow in 2015, ’16 and ’17 from St. Agatha was more than 4 million gallons.

“The 4 million gallons is above what was agreed upon in the current [memorandum of understanding] in place that is being processed for the same price as the contracted amount,” Pelletier said on Tuesday. “Right now they’re exceeding daily flows — every day, every month.”

“It’s unrealistic. We are losing money every year to this agreement,” he said. “Were losing $15,000 a year. The Town of Frenchville is picking up the tab for that and it needs to stop.”  

Last May, Gary Picard, the town manager of St. Agatha at the time, said officials there had been dealing with “inflow and infiltration,” or unwanted groundwater that gets into the system, because of broken pipes and leaking fittings.

He said that more than $80,000 was spent in 2016 to repair and replace some sewer sections and connections and that more was being done to identify and resolve inflow and infiltration problems.

Aubrie Michaud took over as town manager in St. Agatha in July 2017 after Picard left to become town manager in Madawaska.

As the Frenchville continues to review and work to resolve its issues with St. Agatha, Pelletier asked the Select Board at Monday’s emergency hearing to include in the town warrant ‘Article 16’:

“To see if the town will authorize the Town of Frenchville to move funds from the Sewer Buy in for litigation and legal representation to current sewer MOU signed by the BOS on September 20, 2011.  Allocation will be used for legal fees and additional administration costs. Requested amount not to exceed $40,000.”

Voters can decide on this and other issues at the annual Frenchville town meeting beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, at the Frenchville Community Center.

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