The Searsport Water District was created in 1947 when it purchased the Searsport Water Company for a price of $130,000.00. In 1966 the District then purchased the Stockton Springs Water Company for $176,000.00 thus forming both entities into what is known today as the Searsport Water District. The Searsport Water District is and independent municipal district – separate from the Town of Searsport and regulated by the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Maine CDC Drinking Water Program. Its primary purpose is to provide safe drinking water to its customers and to provide adequate fire protection for fire-fighting purposes.
Today the Searsport Water District serves approximately 1,050 customers throughout Searsport and Stockton Springs area. The District staff currently operates and maintains six (6) pumping/flow regulator stations, three (3) in-ground concrete storage reservoirs, which have a total combined storage capacity of approximately 1.5 million gallons of water. The District also maintains approximately 34+/- miles of water main varying in sizes from 1” to 16” together with over 170 fire hydrants throughout the system with more to come as we continue to make future upgrades.
The water reaches our customers through approximately 34 miles of water transmission and distribution mains ranging in sizes between 1” and 16” in diameter. The system begins at our pump station located along Route 1A in Stockton Springs and ends at our Searsport/Belfast Interconnection Facility on Route 1 at the Searsport/Belfast town line. In addition, we also own, manage, and maintain approximately 350 acres of watershed protection land.
The District’s single groundwater supply currently provides up to 550 gallons per minute, however the long-term safe yield of the well has been calculated at 636,500 gallons per day. Currently, based on 2019 data, the District’s average daily demand was 324,447 gallons per day, which puts us at 50.97% of our daily safe yield.
The District also has an emergency connection with the Belfast Water District and has an agreement with the Belfast Water District allowing each district to provide water to each other in the event of an emergency or during routine maintenance of our wells.
All District operations are performed by (5) employees, which consist of (2) office staff members, (2) outside service technicians, and (1) Superintendent. The Superintendents duties are to oversee the entire operations of the district and to report those operations to the (3) member Board of Trustees. Those trustees are required to reside within the district and are appointed by the Searsport Board of Selectmen for 3-year terms as required by the District’s State of Maine Charter.
At present, as of 2019, the district has invested nearly $14 million in upgrades to the water system with over $7.1 million of those costs coming in the form of grant funds from State and Federal Agencies such as USDA, and the Maine Drinking Water Programs State Revolving Fund, which also receives federal funds as well.
In 1995 the Searsport Water District switched from its surface water supply at Half Moon Pond to its current gravel packed groundwater supply located just off Route 1A at the Prospect/Stockton Springs town line. This entire area is within the Groundwater Protection Area, which is also known as the Wellhead Protection Area.
Aeration: At present we pump water from our well supply to our pump station where it goes through a single Deep Bubble Aeration System which removes both radon and dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) from the water and releases it back into the atmosphere. By removing the dissolved CO2, which is corrosive to pipes, we are able to increase the groundwater pH from approximately 6.8 to 7.4. The increased pH makes the water more alkaline and significantly reduces the corrosiveness of the water thus preserving the life of our older water mains along with the plumbing within the homes and businesses of our customers.
The higher alkalinity also keeps lead and copper from leaching out of our customers plumbing and into the water. At present lead and copper levels are tested every 3 years and have always been well below the State and Federal limits, thus making our water very safe to drink for all.
Previously, before the installation of the Deep Bubble Aeration System, we used a very safe chemical called Sodium Silicate (liquid glass). Sodium Silicate adhered to the inside of the old cast iron metal water mains thus reducing corrosion and creating a barrier between the water and the inside of the water main. This chemical was expensive to use costing the District approximately $6,000.00 per year in chemical cost alone, and the installation of the new Deep Bubble Aeration System eliminated the need for Sodium Silicate.
This $80,000.00 investment will pay for itself within 13 years. Our philosophy is, eliminating a chemical from your drinking water is a great thing as delivering the best water possible to our customers is our number one priority.
Chlorination: Since we are aerating the water before it enters the system, we are also required to add liquid bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite). This is to assure that your water is always safe to drink. The levels of Sodium Hypochlorite we add is very minimal and kept at a level well below the State allowable limits but high enough to maintain detectable chlorine levels throughout the entire system.