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Millions of federal dollars flow to wastewater upgrades

Several wastewater treatment plants in Maine are being awarded millions of dollars to make infrastructure improvements.

The City of Saco will receive $9 million dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant. The city is elevating structures at the plant three feet above the 100-year flood elevation, partly to mitigate the effects of sea level rise.

Saco communications director Emily Roy said the project was identified as a priority by the city's Coastal Resiliency Ad-hoc Committee, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency.

"To mitigate some of the effects of coastal erosion and different intense storms that we were experiencing in this area that were causing flooding and some other issues that were a concern," Roy said.

The project will also reduce combined sewer overflows, and reclaim green space for public use.

And, under a separate U.S. Department of Agriculture program to strengthen rural infrastructure, the Town of Bethel is being awarded $3 million dollars in loans and grants to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. The Town of Milo will also receive $95,000 to improve its sewer system.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.