The waterline project at the Bucks Harbor Former Air Force Tracking Station (AFRTS) in Machiasport, Maine is complete and bringing clean drinking water to the residents living along Howard Mountain thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New England District the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Contaminants detected in the water made it necessary to construct the waterline. The project was completed under the New England District’s Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP), Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS)program.
“The Bucks Harbor site was used between 1954 and 1984 as an AFRTS for protection against hostile aircraft,” said Project Manager Marie Wojtas. “While the AFRTS was in operation, toxic solvents were reportedly used, including trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE) for maintenance and cleaning operations.”
Part of the property is now owned by the state of Maine Department of Corrections and used for a minimum-security prison known as the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently owns the remainder of the property.
Investigations performed in 1995 by the New England District determined those solvents were disposed of on the ground surface at various locations and consequently found in the groundwater.
“As a result of those investigations, point of entry treatment systems (POET) were installed in the homes at residential locations where groundwater was contaminated,” said Wojtas. “The residential POET systems are essentially filters which use vessels filled with granular activated carbon (GAC) to remove organic contaminants from water.”
Between 1995 and 2017, USACE completed the investigation phase of the project. The investigation included removing the underground and above ground storage tanks, soil excavation, installing monitoring wells, sampling monitoring wells and residential wells, installing POET systems for contaminated water supplies, and completing project reports such as the site inspection, the remedial investigation, proposed plan, and decision document.
In May 2017 a project decision document identified the need to provide an alternate water supply to impacted residents.
“The alternate water supply was to include the extension of the waterline from the public water system well which is served by the DCF,” said Wojtas.
The District awarded a $170,000 contract to Colby Company LLC for the design and construction of a water supply distribution system extension and treatment system upgrade. CCI Energy and Construction Services received a $1.5 million design and build contract award to upgrade the DCF water supply and to install the waterline extension – to include 5,400 feet of excavation from the DCF to five existing residences, plus the capacity of up to 10 residences, that have contaminated water.
“The project included upgrades to the existing public water supply including upgrades to the mechanical and electrical infrastructure, general building repairs, addition of a GAC filtration system, upgrade of existing chlorination system, and modification of the well to a non-confined space condition,” said Wojtas.
The design documents for the project were completed in January 2018, but the project hit a roadblock when DCF suddenly closed in February 2018 and the contract was terminated. The Maine Department of Corrections renovated and re-opened the facility and later the District contracted WSP USA Environment and Infrastructure to review the 2018 design documents and update them. The contract also included administrative support and advice during construction.
A $3 million construction contract was awarded to CCI Facility Contractors in 2021 to complete construction of the waterline extension and treatment system upgrades for the DCF public water supply and the work was completed in September 2023. The District and MDOC have a memorandum of agreement regarding the operation and maintenance of agreement regarding the operation and maintenance of the treatment system and the waterline extension.
“Groundwater monitoring, which began in 1995, will continue with samples being collected annually,” said Wojtas.
DERP/FUDS is a Congressionally directed program (PL 98-212) that provides for an expanded effort in environmental restoration. It emphasizes the identification, investigation and cleanup of hazardous and toxic waste; unexploded ordnance; and unsafe buildings, structures and debris at current and former military facilities. One hundred and eighty-one formerly used defense sites have been identified in Maine. Site and project eligibility investigations at 181 sites are now complete, including 93 where no work was found to be necessary.
The DCF and Ivar McLeod, project manager for the Maine DEP, contributed to the successful creation completion of the project. In addition to Wojtas, other New England District team members who worked on the project include Kathy Miller, project chemist, Dan Folan, project geologist, Grace Greenberg, project risk assessor; Lee Thibodeau, Design Civil engineering section chief; Gary Morin and Heather Sullivan, FUDS program managers; Susanne Grant Devens Resident Office (DRO) Chief, Travis Dancewick and Bill Phelan DRO project engineers.