Local water district earns state honor
MADAWASKA, Maine — The Madawaska Water District received the Outstanding Water Operations Award at the annual Maine Rural Water Association convention held Dec. 6-8 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.
The award was presented at the beginning of one of the many seminars that were held at the convention. This particular seminar had approximately 60 industry colleagues from throughout the state in attendance, said Steve Bechard, superintendent of the Madawaska Water District.
Bechard and the district serve 1,300 accounts in the town, and maintain 136 public fire hydrants and approximately 20 miles of distribution piping. On average, the Madawaska Water District delivers nearly 400,000 gallons of water per day from two well sources.
“I was totally surprised and not expecting it at all,” Bechard said afterward. “This award is validating for our group of employees and our Board of Trustees.”
The Madawaska Water District has worked proactively on several projects to improve infrastructure, preparedness and aesthetics, and to educate employees. Most recently, staff completed an updated Emergency Response Plan in 2022 as well as compliance with America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
The district takes pride in the water system’s appearance and has implemented a multiyear plan to inspect, improve and beautify public fire hydrants, said Rural Water Association officials during the presentation.
Bechard provides timely information to trustees and appreciates their support and assistance, along with the dedication and cooperation the district staff: Distribution Foreman Mathew Hebert, Distribution Technician Jeffrey Chasse, Office Manager Samuel Cyr and Office Assistant Dicsie Gullick.
The district has also worked on recommendations from the comprehensive facilities evaluation completed in 2018. In September 2022, they applied for a drinking water grant to undertake phase 1 of a 4-phase project to boost system reliability, correct a storage devidit and remove hydraulic restrictions in the main trunkline of the distribution system, Bechard said.
Part of the district’s work involves exercises and training. Last spring, the water district hosted a tabletop exercise with other town departments to strengthen emergency responses.
Bechard said the recognition honors how the district and the town all work together.
“Awards like this are only attainable with a dedicated and knowledgeable staff all working together and with the support of our community,” he said.