AGING INFRASTRUCTURE: Treatment Plants are made up of components with both 20 year and 50 year life cycles. The Gardiner Plant came on line in 1982. Twenty year components have been rebuilt or replaced, are currently being rebuilt or replaced or need to be rebuilt or replaced, which incurs significant cost. The treatment system construction cost in 1982 was very close to 13 million dollars. To replace the same system (35 years later) in today’s dollars would be approximately 45 million dollars.
REDUCED GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: The Gardiner Treatment Plant was built with 90% Grant Money associated with the Clean Water Act. Today Grant Opportunities are highly competitive and are limited to the 40%-45% range. The result is a higher financial burden placed on the local community.
NEW MANDATES: Since 1982 Gardiner as well as all Maine Communities have worked with the increasing number of mandates, such as reduced overflows, increased testing, and overall stricter environmental requirements.
FACTORS UNIQUE TO GARDINER: Gardiner’s entire treatment process was designed to be housed indoors as opposed to being outdoors as in the case of most communities, which adds further heating and maintenance costs.
LOSS OF INDUSTRY: Since 1982 Gardiner has lost many industries including but not limited to: Carlton Woolen Mill, Health Tex and most recently Gardiner Paperboard, leaving the system with excess capacity. The loss of Gardiner Paperboard alone resulted in a loss of revenues totaling 25%. Currently the Wastewater Treatment Plant is running at 55% capacity.
A DECADE OF LOW & STABLE RATES: For a decade the Gardiner Treatment Plant ran without significant rate increases. This rate relief was an option due to the reserve balances that were established in the early operations of the plant. Such reserves are not available today for rate relief.